The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund predict Ghana’s economy as the fastest growing economy due to Ghana’s 2019 real GDP growth rate of 6.2percent exceeding the regional average of 4.5 percent between 2019 and 2020. Despite this potential, a quarter of the country’s population lives in abject poverty according to the 2018 Ghana Poverty Profile Report.
Over the years, Ghana has implemented several social protection strategies including the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, with the primary objective of reducing poverty by influencing consumption and improving access to basic social services.
LEAP is a cash transfer scheme that, provides direct cash to beneficiaries to support livelihoods and minimize extreme poverty through a bi-monthly payment cycle on an electronic platform. Beneficiaries are selected based on age, level of vulnerability and disability without productive capacity. The selection process was manual until 2012 when a new information system was designed to support electronic targeting and payment to deal with challenges such as the selection of ineligible persons, data mismatch, and delays in processing payments for beneficiaries.
The LEAP programme started with 1, 654 households in 21 districts which increased to 54 in 2009. The programme expanded the number of household beneficiaries by 50,000 in 2016. Currently, the Leap programme serves 213,000 households across the country. The programme is managed by the LEAP secretariat and implemented by the Department of Social Welfare, both, under the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, of Ghana.
It is expected that the rising number of beneficiary households will translate into a reduction in poverty levels. The pathway to achieving this reduction, has been assessed by various academics and development institutions with missed results. The human face to the poverty reduction strategies, is usually missing from such engagements and the public discourse. This is the gap Imani Centre for Policy and Education seeks to bridge with this foregoing project, with the ultimate objective of understanding the impact of the programme on the beneficiaries and their preference for alternative and complementary strategies for poverty alleviation. The results of the study shows an increase in family consumption, improved school enrolment and social inclusion.
This project further underscores the need for and relevance of sustainable business reforms to enable individual economic agents make sustainable decisions and provisions that guarantee livelihoods above poverty. This is important particularly as beneficiaries regardless of their backgrounds and criteria of selection appear to have a preference for self-supporting poverty alleviation strategies, than state led solutions.