From Right Susan Ngongi, Hon. Joseph Amenorwode, Chairman of the Parliamentary select committee on Social Welfare and State Enterprise, Nana Oye Lithur and Mr. Kwesi Armo- Himbson, Chief Director of MoGCSP.
The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme will be expanded to cover 80,000 people by the end of the year, Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), has announced.
It will increase the number of beneficiaries under the LEAP programme to 150,000.
Mrs. Lithur, addressing the press at a media engagement on social protection, said LEAP programme, which is aimed at reducing poverty and promoting access to service and opportunities for the extremely poor, has produced many positive results.
She said the cash transfer to the poor in the country, estimated to be about 18 per cent of the population, has helped to improve household consumption and nutrition, access to healthcare services and increased basic school enrollment, attendance and retention, among others.
The minister also noted that with support from World Bank, a National Targeting Unit will be set up within the Social Protection Directorate of the Ministry to implement the common targeting mechanism and establish the Ghana National Household Registry to enhance the LEAP programme.
The new unit is to ensure the proper coordination of all social protection programmes being rolled out by government.
‘When the registry is set up, all potential beneficiaries for social protection programmes being implemented by the Government of Ghana will be selected from the database of the national registry,’ she said.
Mrs. Lithur also observed that through the new database system, the ministry will be able to select the poorest families in the country to benefit from the social protection programmes using global best practices.
‘We want to eliminate the system where one person benefits from two or three social protection programmes whereas another poor person who is equally entitled does not benefit from any social protection intervention at all.
The Brazil Experience
In order for the country to develop a sustainable social protection system and technical cooperation, the minister, together with officials from the Ministry and development agencies, explored the policy arrangements of the successful Brazilian social protection system, which supported the formulation of Ghana’s LEAP Programme.
She therefore noted that the ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, will initiate a formal technical cooperation agreement with Brazil on Social Protection through the Ghana-Brazil Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation in order to tap into the rich experience of Brazil.
‘I’m confident that as we consolidate and strengthen our social protection systems, many more excluded and vulnerable would enjoy a better life,’ she said.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country representative, Susan Ngongi, said social protection has had a dramatic impact in the lives of the beneficiaries, however the programmes still cover an inadequate proportion of society.
‘LEAP only covers one in 10 of those households,’ she said.
Ms. Ngongi therefore observed that government can make decisions to effectively raise revenues and allocate resources to the LEAP programme.
The Brazil experience demonstrates that social protection is affordable and will reduce poverty and inequality and improve medium to long-term returns, the UNICEF Country Representative said.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri
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