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Report on the IMANI-UNICEF’s Poverty and Inequality Advocacy Project

In addressing the issue of poverty and inequality, the collaboration with IMANI sought to achieve severable objectives.

Contextual Analysis

While Ghana has seen decent economic growth over the past 20 years, a research from UNICEF shows 1 in 4 people still living in poverty today and growth is benefiting the richest people the most. In contrast, the poorest people are seeing the least benefit and struggle to develop their own livelihoods. Ghana’s concerted effort in fighting against poverty, based on the National Poverty level, has led to a fall from 56.5% in 1992 to 24.2% in 2013, thereby achieving the MDG 1 target.  The annual rate of reduction of the poverty levels has slowed down to 1.1% since 2006 compared to 1.8% in the 1990’s. In the case of urban and rural poverty the statistic showed urban average rate of poverty was 10.6% and rural 37.9%. Accordingly, inequality in Ghana measured by the Gini coefficient has stalled since 2006 at 41. The Upper West region had the highest level of inequality. Inequality in terms of consumption showed an increase of 27% among the wealthiest and 19% among the poor indicating the growing inequality in Ghana.

In line with UNICEF’s Policy and Advocacy Plan on Poverty and Inequality for 2016 and 2017, and the child poverty external advocacy campaign, UNICEF Ghana engagement in the 2016 Presidential election and development of the National Long-Term Development Plan (NLTDP 2018-2057) was premised within the broad context of reducing poverty and inequality. The need for inclusive development is obvious i.e. development that more effectively reaches the poorest people. In addressing the issue of poverty and inequality, the collaboration with IMANI sought to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To enable Political parties examine their current/proposed Manifestos and to ensure they develop more responsive policies, programmes and budgets for addressing poverty and inequality in Ghana;
  2. To create a platform or opportunities for citizens to understand issues around poverty and inequality in Ghana and to enable them examine and make input into the Manifestos of parties; and
  3. To empower citizens to contribute to the discussion and to make well-informed choices at the elections.

A desk research produced 4 articles on poverty and inequality namely:

  1. IMANI’s 2016 Election Alert: Linking Poverty alleviation to Agricultural Productivity- What the political parties proposed in2012 and what should guide them in 2016
  • The article highlighted the link between the agriculture sector in Ghana and the incidence of poverty. This is especially true for the Northern region, the Upper East and the Upper West, which have the highest poverty rates in the country and also highly rely on the agricultural sector for employment. For these regions, 90.1% of the rural population is employed in agriculture. Challenges that hamper growth in the agriculture sector include:
  • Under-utilized human capital – the vast number of unemployed youth could potential be used
  • A need for increased cultivation of agricultural land – the FAO estimates that only 43% of agricultural land in the country is under cultivation
  • Lack of irrigation, leading to a dependency on rain-fed agriculture – The Ghana Irrigation Development Policy aims to irrigate 5,000km2 but even if this target is met, there would still be a deficit in irrigated lands of 96%
  • Low crop yields – Crop yields have been consistently lower than potential yields, especially for cashew, maize, yam, pepper and rice. Rice achieves only 38.5% of its potential yields. More scientific research is needed to solve this.
  • There has been a decline in the number of those employed in agriculture, as they move towards services and other sectors. This is unsustainable as there are increasing pressures of urbanization on infrastructure, social services and other amenities. The large informal sector operating in agriculture puts those who exit at greater risk of falling into urban poverty.
  • Many parties (NDC, NPP, CPP and PPP) have policies addressing agriculture, mostly centered around creating new markets for products, developing agro-processing, and modernizing agriculture.


  1. IMANI’s Election Alert: Can Ghana’s Politicians Reduce Inequality in Pre-Tertiary Education in Ghana?
  • Inequality in education may be a result of the region or district that the child resides (spatial inequality), the gender of the child (gender inequality), whether the child has disabilities or not (disability discrimination), the income of the child’s parents (socio-economic inequality), and other factors such as religion and ethnicity
  • At the primary level, gender parity has been achieved, inching up from 0.96 in 2009/2010 to 1 in 2014/15
  • Gender parity has not been achieved in 5 out of 10 regions (Central, Eastern, Northern, Upper East, Volta) as per 2013/2014 data Gender parity has not been achieved in 5 out of 10 regions (Central, Eastern, Northern, Upper East, Volta) as per 2013/2014 data
  • Completion rates at the primary level average 96% while at the JHS level is averages 68% from 2009/10 to 2013/14 and averages 36% at the SHS level. At each level and for each year, the completion rate for girls lag behind that of boys except for the 2013/14 academic year at the JHS level.
  • A wide spatial disparity between the ten regions for the WASSCE pass rates.
  • Recommendations focused on the full implementation of the Inclusive Education Policy and the equity debate


  1. IMANI Alert: The very sad reality of Ghanaian Women in agriculture and what must be change by politicians.
  • The article highlighted the link between the composition of women and the challenges faced in the agricultural sector of Ghana
  • Women make up a large portion of the agricultural labour force; 70-90% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 45% in Ghana.
  • According to GLSS 5, in 2005, 76% of farms in Ghana were owned by men and just 24% by women.
  • Access to extension services is another challenge faced. The World Bank (2010) estimated that only 2% of female farmer shave access to extension officers, while 12% of male farmers have access. This means that women are six times less likely to employ appropriate technology and scientific methods as part of their farming practices.
  • Women are a riskier group to lend credit to. Send Ghana (2014) indicated that only 16% of smallholder women farmers are able to access credit.
  • Recommendations included Ghana deepening legal services to empower women and girls, especially in rural areas. All ministries and programmes should also have a gender-related component; this shouldn’t just be the responsibility of one ministry of women’s initiative. More women should be encouraged to acquire skills, with more opportunities and scholarship schemes available for those who are interested in agriculture.
  1. IMANI Alert: Women Participation in Governance
  • Women constitute about 52 per cent of Ghana’s population. Despite this, they are under-represented in governance, decision-making positions and other significant areas of the economy in Ghana.
  • The last six elections held in Ghana have produced not more that 11% representation by women in Parliament
  • According to the Inter-Parliament Union, as of 1st September 2016, as relates to women’s representation in Legislature, Ghana placed at 150th position out 193 countries.
  • Currently, of 275 parliamentarians, women constitute 10.9 percent (31 seats) compared to the 2008 figure of 20.
  • Currently, 6 out of 18 Cabinet Ministers are women, representing 33.33 percent, which is above the global share of women among cabinet ministers of 18 percent.
  • An Affirmative Action Bill which seeks a 40 percent representation and participation of women in governance, public positions of power and decision-making, received cabinet ascent in June 2016 and is currently going through the processes for presentation to Parliament for deliberation.


Equitable access to quality public goods (education, health) is undeniably important for a nation’s development. Ghana’s story is no different from other developing nations with a goal of ending poverty and reducing inequality. Achieving high literacy rate by equipping all Ghanaians with useful knowledge and skills to develop their potential and productivity to eventually reduce poverty for national growth. The road to this goal has not been smooth as it has been hindered by various challenges over the past decade and dialogue on how to enhance equity still continues. These challenges, among others, appear to have culminated in the slow improvement in the equitable quality education in Ghana and in the long run weaken efforts in reducing or addressing the issue poverty and inequality. For Ghana to progress in the education sector, political parties must consider the recommendations aforementioned and more emphasis must be placed on individual performances with regards to Teacher-Pupil character and attitude development as well as making funds available for various educational projects.

One of the targets of Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goal to Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls is to ‘Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws’. It is therefore important for Ghana, to deepen access of legal services especially to those in the rural areas.

Although, there was some progress to increase the national representation of women in governance with setting up a Women in Local Governance Fund (WLF) to offer more support for basic developmental programmes of elected Assemblywomen in 2004. Also, An Affirmative Action Bill which seeks a 40 percent representation and participation of women in governance, public positions of power and decision-making if passed into law this will be a major step in the addressing the issue of women participation in governance.

The investment in data and research cannot be underscored  as it  will help shape the development and implementation of policies in addressing  the issues of poverty and inequality.


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