THE WORLD Bank’s Board of Executive Directors have approved continuing support to Ghana as she seeks to further reduce poverty, and expand social opportunities for the poorest people, through public works employment and grants for poor households.
The US$50 million credit for the Ghana Social Opportunities Project aims to extend Ghana’s Labor-Intensive Public Works (LIPW) programme from 49 to 60 districts, as well as to scale up grants from 100,000 to 150,000 poor households through the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) programme. Also, a National Household Registry will be set up to improve the targeting of social protection efforts in Ghana. The Ghana Social Opportunities Project supports efforts to fight poverty in the country’s poorest regions, and to ensure that poor and vulnerable households are not left behind as the economy grows, said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Ghana.
This will build on Ghana’s gains in recent decades, which include reducing the poverty rate from 52 percent in 1992 to 28 percent in 2006, and help the country to make faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, the Country Director added in a statement released yesterday. The ongoing public works programme has already exceeded the number of beneficiaries targeted, with over 80,000 people benefiting directly, against a target of 13,000. Climate change public works projects have been the most labour-intensive, followed by small earth dams and dugouts, roads, and social infrastructure.
Both the public works and household grant programmes have achieved excellent gender-targeted results. Sixty percent of public works beneficiaries, and 69 percent of household grant beneficiaries, so far, have been female; these programmes have, therefore, helped to empower women and increase their incomes. One of the most important long-term aspects of the project is its funding for the integrated National Household Registry System, which will help to expand the coverage and scope of social protection initiatives, and allow more accurate selection of households, based on their socio-economic status.
Across Sub-Saharan Africa, governments have been turning to social protection initiatives to reach the poorest people with income-generation opportunities and cash transfers, said Suleiman Namara, World Bank Task Team Leader for the Ghana Social Opportunities Project. When these activities are coordinated and targeted well and driven by strong policies, there can be rapid gains against poverty, he added.
The Ghana Social Opportunities Project will be implemented by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, and will run until 2017.