Government will, this year, inject GH¢200 million into the implementation of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) and GH¢500 million in the School Feeding Programme (SFP) to expand the number of beneficiaries and reduce poverty in Ghana.
Government would also provide $200 to each LEAP beneficiary and equip them with entrepreneurial skills after exiting the programme, in order to be financially independent.
It is expected that 1.6 million Ghanaians comprising 350,000 extremely poor households would benefit from LEAP this year, while 2.6 million children are expected to benefit from the School Feeding programme.
Dr Rita Owusu-Amankwa, the Director at the Social Protection Directorate, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, announced this at the premiering of a video documentary on the impact of the LEAP programme in Accra.
The documentary, organised by the IMANI Centre for Policy and Education, a policy think tank, provided opportunity for stakeholders to understand the impact and challenges of the LEAP implementation in Sissala West in the Upper West, Shia-Osudoku District in the Greater Accra Region and Kintampo South District.
Dr Owusu-Amankwa said each LEAP beneficiary is supposed to enjoy free healthcare under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and urged beneficiaries who have not registered under the Scheme to do so.
Responding to the assertion that some LEAP beneficiaries walk about 50 to 70 kilometres to collect their grants, she said the Department of Social Welfare, the programme implementers, had set up collection points within five kilometers radius.
She said since the implementation of LEAP in 2008, there was no exit plan for beneficiaries.
Therefore, government is receiving support from the World Bank and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) to re-assess the programme this year, in order to implement an exit strategy for beneficiaries.
Government would also implement a Production Inclusive Capacity Programme where every LEAP beneficiary would undergo entrepreneurial skill training so that they could fend for themselves after exiting the programme, Dr Owusu-Amankwa stated.
She said the World Bank and DFID was supporting the government to develop an electronic management system known as the Ghana Household Registry, to enable the Department of Social Welfare correctly target households that genuinely needed the LEAP grants.
Mr Franklin Cudjoe, the Founding President and Chief Executive Officer of IMANI, in a brief remarks, said it was imperative for government to take a critical look at the various social intervention programmes, re-assess the challenges and re-align them to graduate extremely poor households to the arena of economic prosperity.
Mr Cudjoe said while he appreciated the benefit of the various social interventions implemented so far, it was prudent to address the teething challenges and offer management training skills to beneficiaries so that they would live dignified lives after exiting the programmes.