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01.11.2005 General News

New urban poverty reduction strategy begins March

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Accra, Nov. 1, GNA - A new strategic five-year Urban Poverty Reduction Project (UPRP) that lays the coordinated framework to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) would begin to be implemented, March next year.
The 41.67 million dollar-project formulated on demand-driven approach to community-based development, is to improve socio-economic growth of urban poor through public/private partnership. The African Development Bank (ADB) is providing 37.75 million dollars of the funding while the Government and the Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies (MMDAs) recognised as implementing bodies, paid the remaining 4.17 million dollars. Speaking at a day's national sensitisation workshop on the project in Accra, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Finance and Economic Planning Minister, said the new strategy, the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa would incorporate the various interventions into the overall programme of the Government.
He said the project focused on institutional capacity building and human capital development, targeted pro-poor socio-economic investment and selected urban areas where demand-driven sub-project would emerge. Mr Baah-Wiredu said the challenge ahead was to target more effectively and directly poverty reduction with clear-cut policies rather than relying on the trickle-down effect of continued economic growth.
The Finance Minister said concrete measures were taken to ensure that the project did not go through generic problems such as delays in fulfilling loan effectiveness conditions, non-compliance with banking procedures and procurement of goods and services. Mr Charles Bintim, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said even though the Ministry would play the oversight role of the project, the onerous task of implementation rested with the participating districts.
He said the MDDAs were required to set aside funds for maintenance of the infrastructure to be provided and to contribute about 15 per cent of the cost of the sub-projects as their counterparts funding. "The UPRP will work at the speed of light and will not mark time for a district that will lag behind.
"The Ministry has great expectation from this project whose objective is laudable in the interest of the realisation of the MDGs," Mr Bintim said.
He said the Government owed it a duty to alleviate poverty saying: "Remember that many such opportunities have been blown off and we cannot add this to that tall list and leave our people whose mandate we hold to wallow in abject poverty..."
Ms Ama Serwaa Dapaah, Executive Director of the Social Investment Fund (SIF), the agency that would oversee the implementation of the project, said 12 MMDAs would benefit from the UPRP. These included, Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi, Koforidua, Ho, Tema, Akim Oda, Agogo, Wenchi, Swedru, Apam and Kasoa.
Ms Dapaah said the project would be implemented with the benefit of lessons learnt from "Poverty I" including the need to expand on project targeting to avoid leaning towards the more influential community members.
She said the project would provide support to 600 small growth oriented enterprises, 40 per cent of which would be owned by women with high employment generation potential to upgrade them to the small to medium enterprises. 01 Nov. 05