The government of Ghana in late March started the implementation of its Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) scheme nationwide.
The programme which is aimed at providing financial assistance to the 18.2 percent (880,000) persons considered to be extremely poor under the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) conducted in 2005 and 2006 is expected to benefit 8,350 individuals from 1,654 households in 21 selected districts in the country.
Beneficiaries under the scheme will receive between GH¢ 8 ($ 8) and GH¢ 16 ($16) per month depending on the household. Most beneficiaries of this assistance are old women above 60 years, orphans and physically challenged persons.
Currently, beneficiaries of this scheme receive their monies through the post office. However, it will be of a great service to the beneficiaries if an account is open for them at any bank closer to them for the monies to be transferred into it in order to instill saving attitudes in them.
Abibimman Foundation in commending government for instituting the scheme is quick to add that it is not an end to poverty in the country. In implementing this scheme, government must look at creating an economy that would promote local goods and services, thereby creating wealth and jobs for the jobless.
Government must engage civil society organizations in monitoring the disbursement of these monies to ensure transparency and accountability.
The GLSS has identified those in the agric sector to be the poorest in the country. Government as a matter of urgency should put in place practical measures to give more support to the sector which employs over sixty percent of the nation's total workforce.
It must be noted that most of the beneficiaries of the LEAP scheme are from farming communities. This in effect means that if the agric sector is prioritized and given the needed attention, these beneficiaries of the scheme will have a noble source of income and that will alleviate them from poverty.
Incentives such as farm materials, storage facilities and capital injection must be made available to make the sector more vibrant. Government should ensure that there is ready market for farm produce.
Also it must see to the provision of reliable irrigation systems at these farming areas to facilitate year long farming. The issue of land for farming in recent times has become a major problem for farmers. To this end there should strict regulation with usage of land. Land meant for farming must be solely used for that purpose.
It must as a matter of urgency guarantee market access for local produce by making it mandatory for all state institutions to use only domestic produce. In this light farmers should be empowered to supply food items to the Ghana School Feeding Programme.
Government and its stakeholders must ensure that trade negotiations and other agreements promote food and livelihood security, rural development agenda, and protect local manufacturers.
Although it has launched the Buy Ghana First programme, the process of implementation has not been given the necessary push to achieve the goal for which it was instituted. It has become a document gathering dust on the shelves of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and Presidents Special Initiative.
It must be firm on its ground to avoid arm-twisting by our development partners in implementing policies that will not safeguard our local industry. A very good example of a policy that will collapse our local industry and render many unemployed is the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs).
Ghana must believe the saying of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah; “Africa is capable of managing its own affairs” and act in that consciousness.
Abibimman Foundation/MDGs Watch/Youth Agenda newspapers
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