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03.02.2010 General News

Goverment`s fight against poverty: not visible in the economy of the people

By Helena Selby - Ghanaian Chronicle
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The world has never been as inventive and productive as it is today, every now and then, geniuses, intellectuals and experts bring about inventions and ideas to help develop the world. There have never been many professions and careers like the world has today, as through the various inventions, many professions have been created, leading to the creation of more jobs. The availability of numerous jobs in this modern world which exceeds some time past, has never brought satisfaction to people of today, as the population of the world keeps growing, and technology and education taking over the olden days agriculture.

It is very strange that despite the fact that the world has never been rich as it is today, extreme poverty in the records of the world can be found today. Gone were the days when the only responsibility of man was to feed his household through the cultivation of crops, times have changed as technology and immense education have taken over the economical freedom of many people in the world, compelling people to spend more to attain a certain standard of life.

In Ghana, despite its rich natural resources, the majority of the people still face poverty and hardship, and the rapid urbanisation of its capital city still does not leave any trace of any good standard of living in the lives of the people.

It is about time the government supports the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) commitment in raising awareness to the fact that freedom from poverty is a fundamental human right.

The fundamental human right in democracy should not be only focused on the right to have a say and not being gagged, but the right to have a good standard of living. Records show that Ghana has developed its economy on a scale that could allow it to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before the 2015 deadline, but as to if this scale will not only be a paper work, but as well have an impact on the people, is for the for government to decide.

Poverty in Ghana
According to the United Nations Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, 2001, “...poverty may be defined as a human condition characterised by sustained or chronic deprivation of the resources, capabilities, choices, security, and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living, and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.” If this be the definition of poverty, then it can be said that many Ghanaians fall under that category of economic embarrassment.

The majority of the population, especially the youth, who are the stronghold of the economy, are deprived of job opportunities, making their capabilities and education go waste each passing day. The everyday increase in the number of educational institutions, and the limited creation of jobs to support educational qualification, is a great factor of emerging poverty among the youth in the future.

About 51% of Ghana's poor population can mostly be found in the rural areas, and so far, the poorest regions in the country are the Upper West, Upper East and the Northern. The state of poverty in these regions has a direct impact on women and children, as women mostly are the caretakers of the household. They have to go through the plight of providing food for the table, despite the rate of food insecurity in the region. The poverty level in the rural areas always compels people from the rural towns to settle in the urban areas, which result into the urban areas being densely populated, hence putting pressure on the limited social amenities, and the rural areas becoming sparsely populated, making it difficult to find people to tap the resources in those areas.

Economic progress and its poverty effect on the people

According to statistics, the Ghanaian economy has grown at an average annual rate of 4.5 per cent over the past two decades. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was 6.3 per cent in 2007. The agriculture sector, which contributed 34 per cent of GDP in 2007, remains the country's major engine of economic growth.

The benefits of economic progress are dramatically evident in the fact that national poverty rates have been cut almost in half, from approximately 51.7 per cent in 1991-1992 to 28.5 per cent in 2005-2006. Poverty decreased by about 17 percentage points in urban areas, and by 24 points in rural areas. Ghana's growth and poverty reduction rates are probably the best that have been achieved in all of sub-Saharan Africa over the past 15 years.

In spite of these statistics, which signify a progress in the standard of living of the people of Ghana, many Ghanaians still wonder where these figures are derived from, as they feel the furnace of the economy is rekindled everyday.

Many Ghanaians, due to lack of job opportunities, limited minimum wage, and increases in the prices of goods and services, makes it difficult for them to cope with the economy. The notion that the government has given the international world a good impression about the progress of the economy, a good standard of living seems to be a mirage for the people of Ghana.

Government's contribution to poverty in Ghana
The rule of law has brought about great civilisation in the country, and in the eyes of the world. The existence of democracy in the country, which the country has to take advantage of to make progress, is rather being misused. The government always forgets that the alleviation of poverty cannot be done on a theoretical basis only, whereby the people cannot feel the impact.

It is a well known fact that for a developing country such as Ghana to reduce the plague of poverty in the country, invitations for investors is one of the bold steps in achieving that dream. However, the change of government, which is a sign of a democratically matured nation, seems to be destroying the nation's chances of attracting investors.

The rate at which every new government takes delight in changing the policies of their predecessor, takes away the desire of people in investing in the country, as in most cases, the new approach of the new government might not be conducive for their investments.

The attitude of these governments has the tendency of pushing away potential investors, which in the long run, would make the citizens the ultimate losers. It is about time governments put aside political sentiments and concentrate on the good of the country.

It would be a good thing if every newly-appointed government continues the good work of the previous, and not introduce other policies which need to be started all over again, resulting in the waste of time and resources. The activity of every appointed government is to bring contribution to the progress of the nation, and not a contribution to the poverty level of the people.

Society and the government can never face the consequences of poverty. What will be dignity and pride of the country, if there is a rise in armed robbery, teenage pregnancy, internet fraud and prostitution, all as a result of poverty? The significance of democracy in a country will be of no use if the country poses all these social vices.

The significance of democracy will be of no use if the economy of a country is not established enough to give the people a better standard of living. It is the responsibility of the government to speed up its journey of poverty alleviation in the country.

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