NPR

Why Ghana's Clam Farmers Are Digging GPS

They have been working the same stretches of river for decades — but have no proof of ownership. Now technology comes to the rescue.
Samuel-Richard Bogobley holds a GPS-enabled tablet to capture the location of one corner of an underwater clam "farm" belonging to Kofi Amatey, in pink, in Ghana's Volta River estuary. Source: Tim McDonnell

Samuel-Richard Bogobley is wearing a bright orange life vest and leaning precariously over the edge of a fishing canoe on the Volta River estuary, a gorgeous wildlife refuge where Ghana's biggest river meets the Gulf of Guinea.

He's looking for a bamboo rod poking a couple feet above the surface. When he finds it, he holds out a computer tablet and taps the screen. Then he motions for the captain to move the boat forward as he scans the water for the next rod.

It's slow work. But once it's completed, it could pave the way for significant new legal protections for the property rights of marginalized communities across Africa.

"Before you can start to recognize a fishery, you need to have a lot of data," says Bogobley, a researcher with

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min read
'Theodore Roosevelt For The Defense' Makes A Libel Case Into Gripping Reading
Gifted writers Dan Abrams and David Fisher, who previously brought us Lincoln's Last Trial, are clearly fascinated by how Teddy Roosevelt's court case played out — bringing an enthusiasm to readers.
NPR5 min readPolitics
Anti-Abortion Rights Groups Push GOP To Rethink Rape And Incest Exceptions
After Alabama passed a restrictive abortion law, anti-abortion rights groups are asking Republican officials to "reconsider decades-old talking points."
NPR3 min read
'Won't Give Up': Siblings Of Jailed Saudi Women's Rights Activist Speak Out In U.S.
It's been a year since Loujain Alhathloul was detained in Saudi Arabia for pushing for women's rights. A PEN award for her and two other Saudi activists has helped bring their plight back to light.