12 July 2012

Ghana: LEAP Gets Donor Support

Photo: United Nations
The UN assists refugees in the Sudan.

The Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Moses Asaga, has disclosed to The Chronicle that the World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID) had made significant contributions for the effective implementation of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme (LEAP).

According to the Minister, the World Bank had committed an amount of US$20 million to the programme, while DFID, a United Kingdom government department, aimed at promoting sustainable development and to eliminate world poverty, had also committed an amount of £36.4 million.

The government of Ghana has also committed an amount of GH¢18 million to the effective implementation of the project.

Barely a week ago, the government announced that it was increasing the amount per household, under the LEAP programme, from GH¢12 to GH¢36 a month.

The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme is a social cash transfer programme, which provides cash and health insurance to extremely poor households across Ghana to alleviate short-term poverty, and encourage long term human capital development.

The programme started a trial phase in March 2008, and then began expanding gradually in 2009 and 2010, with approximately 35,000 households across Ghana, with an annual expenditure of approximately US$11 million, signed onto the programme by June 2010.

The programme, which was then fully funded by the Government of Ghana, is the flagship programme of government's National Social Protection Strategy.

Eligibility is based on poverty, and having a household member in at least one of three demographic categories - single parent with orphan or vulnerable child; elderly poor, or person with extreme disability unable to work (PWD).

The implementation of this programme, however, received varied criticisms from some key members of the then opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), who alluded to the fact that the programme was only an avenue for the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) then, to dole out cash to its grassroots supporters.

Barely four years into government the ruling NDC has increased the amount and number of beneficiaries under a programme it so much vilified.

Some have argued that the decision attests to the failure of the much touted 'Better Ghana Agenda' of the government, and its inability to create wealth for its citizens. But Moses Asaga begs to differ.

According to him, increasing the number of beneficiary households and the amount of money given under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programme does not mean that the government had failed in its pledge to create a Better Ghana.

He explained that as the economy continues to expand, and the country develops to a middle income economy, there are possibilities that people would fall below the minimum poverty line, and these are the ones the programme seeks to cover.

"So, expanding LEAP does not mean that we haven't achieved a lot in developing the economy and creating jobs," he told a local radio station in Accra.

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