Policy think tank IMANI says monthly cash transfers to the poor as is done through the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, is not the solution for alleviating poverty, and more efforts should be focused on economic transformation.
In an analysis of social intervention programmes, IMANI advocated a “far more superior” approach of income-generating activities and improving the ability of the poor to earn, instead of the monthly LEAP cash transfers, saying that the LEAP programme “cannot be a panacea” to alleviating poverty and extreme poverty.
IMANI explained that the poverty line of $1.83 per day and extreme poverty line of $1.25 per day, as captured by the Ghana Living Standards Survey 6, translates into 8.4 per cent of the population in extreme poverty , of which LEAP had covered 7.1 per cent by 2015 (150,000 households). The LEAP cash transfers, it said, also result in a significant shortfall to protection against the extreme poverty threshold.
In its analysis of social programmes as captured in the President’s State of the Nation addresses, the think tank conceded the formulation of a wide range of social protection policies and laws within the past three years but added that many of the successes chalked by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection can be replicated by individuals and institutions with money, underscoring the need for more innovation by the Ministry.
IMANI said many of the social intervention programmes of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection are not innovative in their approach and a lot more needs to be done towards sustainability.
“This is not to undermine the essence of LEAP but to alert that so much more needs to be done and alternate pathways that have cascading results should be considered and perhaps prioritized.”
“It is true that any amount no matter how small can improve a person’s economic fortunes. But the larger conversation of whether it is truly eradicating poverty has to be had,” IMANI said.
The think tank noted while economic transformation would be the better approach to poverty alleviation, inequality is widening as many of the poor and extremely poor, find their livelihoods being eroded with the current decline in agriculture.
From 39 per cent in 2008, agriculture’s contribution to Ghana’s GDP has dwindled to 19 per cent in 2015.
On the EBAN Elderly Welfare Card intended to provide transport discounts to the aged and priority access in banks and hospitals, IMANI said that the card “may not be the fastest or most cost effective option” given the multiplicity of identification cards, many of which bear the age of the cardholder.
“Assuming existing cards were leveraged for this initiative, all 1.1 million elderly population could immediately access the benefits without the wait to receive an EBAN card.”
IMANI also said the Ministry’s efforts to support head porters (Kayayei) who migrate for greener pastures, and empower them with alternative livelihood programmes, is also difficult to evaluate with the lack of statistics and timelines used in pursuing the targets.
By Emmanuel Odonkor