Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
DISBURSEMENT of grants under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme is to start at the end of February this year.
Beneficiaries will converge on selected pay points in the communities to receive their grants, to be paid every two months.
The Assistant Director at the Head Office of the Department of Social Welfare, Ms Victoria Natsu, said LEAP, which is being piloted in 21 districts for three years, after which there will be re-targeting, had the potential to transform the Ghanaian society.
Ms Natsu, speaking at the opening of a sensitisation workshop on LEAP in Kumasi, said the social grant to be provided under the programme was not meant to make beneficiaries lazy, as some people sought to portray.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from District Assemblies, the Department of Social Welfare and other related organisations.
The LEAP is intended to reach out to an estimated 164,370 extremely poor households (about 19 per cent of the extremely poor households in Ghana) with the provision of social grants and complementary services.
Ms Natsu said in coming up with the programme, the government drew examples from other countries that the grants should not be too attractive so that people would be discouraged from seeing them as a source of employment.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Osei-Assibey Antwi, to open the workshop, the Regional Minister, Mr E.A. Owusu-Ansah, noted that social intervention mechanisms were developed by governments to enhance the capacity of the poor and vulnerable.
“These interventions are, therefore, meant to improve and increase the livelihoods of target groups by reducing the impact of various risks and shocks that adversely affect income levels and opportunities to acquire sustainable basic needs,” he said.
Mr Owusu-Ansah noted that provision to less privileged groups through cash transfers could give the poor the security to look for work that would enable them to cater for themselves and their families.
The regional minister observed that the intervention was necessary “because of the possibility that uncontrolled distribution of the national resources can be skewed against the poor and the vulnerable”.
He noted that social protection was not a new concept in Ghana and that it had manifested in various ways over the years.
He mentioned the Programme to Mitigate the Social Cost of Adjustment (PAMSCAD), the Village Infrastructure Project (VIP), the Social Investment Fund (SIF), among others, as some of the social protection programmes that Ghana had witnessed.
Mr Owusu-Ansah said the government deserved commendation for coming up with policies and programmes geared towards addressing poverty.
He urged those implementing of the programme to ensure that it was done effectively.