Technology meets tradition: Strengthening traditional support systems

Whether you love it or detest it, technology continues to shape various aspects of our lives. The influence of this phenomenon has become increasingly important, especially on one of the enduring legacies of Ghanaian society: traditional support systems. These systems include family and community support groups that help the vulnerable, the poor, and those too old or young to provide for themselves. These support systems are based on our traditions, values, and beliefs, passed on through generations, and thrive on norms of reciprocity, sharing, and altruism.

Despite the pressures of migration, globalisation, and urbanisation, weakening the strength of these arrangements, family support remains strong in Ghana. The good news is that with the rise of mobile phones, internet access, and other digital tools, these traditional support systems are evolving.  This article looks at how technology is making traditional support systems in Ghana more effective, accessible, and sustainable.

The changing dynamics

Traditionally, extended families lived close together, making it easy to support each other. Adults supported the weak and the vulnerable and invested in the young, who were expected to support the elderly in turn. For instance, when someone is sick, disabled, or old, the immediate family members step in to help. Thus, each working generation supports the previous one, viewing the cost of raising and educating children as an investment for future support in old age.

However, modernisation and rural-urban migration have weakened these collective support systems, promoting individualism. State support through formal social protection measures, like social insurance and social assistance, is limited in scope and access. This makes traditional support practices crucial in navigating the precarious and harsh urban economy.

Technology has played a critical role in sustaining and enhancing these traditional practices. Social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and WhatsApp, help people find relatives and friends, organise events, share information, and mobilise resources in times of need. Digital payment platforms, like mobile money services, have made it easier to send money over long distances, reducing the stress of physically transferring funds, especially during emergencies.

For instance, you no longer need to go to a bus terminal to send money to parents or siblings in a rural area. Mobile money (Momo) platforms have made it simpler and more efficient for family members abroad or in any part of Ghana to remit money to loved ones.

Technology has also rekindled mutual associations based on ethnicity, profession, or school ties. Alumni associations, for example, have thrived thanks to social media platforms. Facebook has helped the old schoolmates reconnect, while WhatsApp and TikTok make communication more effective.

These networks enable members to support each other during important life events such as weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies. Financial support and job opportunities are also often facilitated through these networks. Additionally, these platforms have made communication among family members and colleagues easier, speeding up decision-making and organising meetings.


Traditional support practices in Ghana remain strong despite the challenges of migration, urbanisation, and globalisation and the general lack of a universal formal social protection scheme. Technology has revived and strengthened traditional practices. However, a significant digital divide exists, with many elderly and low-income individuals lacking access to the necessary technology. Improving digital literacy, access to technology, and developing hybrid models that blend traditional and digital practices are crucial steps forward. Policymakers, practitioners, and society must work together to ensure that the quickening pace of technological change helps create inclusive and adaptable social support systems.

The writer is a Researcher and Consultant


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