Tamale, March 5, GNA – The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection on Wednesday launched the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP 1000) project in Tamale, to target pregnant women with children under 12 months to improve their living conditions.
The USAID is funding the $12 million project, while the government of Ghana with the UNICEF would implement it. So far, it has enrolled approximately 28,000 extremely poor households in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
Alhaji Limuna Mohammed-Muniru, Northern Regional Minister, speaking at the launching ceremony, observed that under-nutrition had enormous consequences for morbidity mortality and the overall development of children.
He said the nutrition indicator trend was the outcome of many factors, which were affected by policies and strategies as well as activities of numerous sectors including health, water and sanitation and agriculture.
He said there were many NGOs operating in Tamale working in areas of health and nutrition and expressed worry that their impact was not visible. He stressed the need to have an institution that coordinates implementation of nutrition interventions.
Alhaji Mohammed-Minuru appealed to MMDCEs to allow the system to work in their areas to ensure that the real people benefited. He underlined the importance of the right selection of beneficiaries saying, ‘The issue of inclusion and exclusion should be avoided and reduced to the minimum’.
Madam Rushnan Murtaza, UNICEF Ghana deputy representative recounted the hardship a pregnant vegetable farmer in the Tolon District of the Northern Region went through due to the inadequate rainfall pattern and poor soil condition.
She said many female farmers with children under five years were passing through harsh economic conditions due to unfavourable rainfall patterns and that cash transfers and related safety nets such as School Feeding Programme and health insurance schemes provided families with the means to access healthcare.
She said UNICEF recognized the efforts of government to tackle poverty in the country with the development of the National Social Protection Strategy, which was a step-in to develop a National Social Protection Policy, as well as implementing the LEAP and other initiatives that would help improve the living conditions of the people.
She said LEAP’s original design focused on three categories of households, which comprised the elderly, the severely disabled and orphans and vulnerable children, but had now expanded to cover vulnerable pregnant women.
Madam Dela Soweh, Deputy Minister of Gender and Social Protection said in spite of gains being chalked through social protection programnmes in Ghana, malnutrition seemed to remain a major drawback to achieving the expected targets.
She said deficiencies during childhood in many areas, especially in malnutrition, could not be adequately compensated for later in life because such deficiencies caused irreversible physical and cognitive defects that impact on the child’s ability to contribute productively to the growth of the national economy.
The LEAP 1,000 is a social cash transfer programme, which provides financial support and health insurance to extremely poor households across Ghana to alleviate short term poverty and to encourage long term human capital development.
The programme would also emphasize on capacity building and accountability including support for the development of a national e-payment system, while its partners would evaluate the effect of the cash transfer programme on household incomes, economic resiliency, impacts on nutritional decisions and incomes for beneficiaries.
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