The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme is a useful undertaking that is helping improve the living conditions of beneficiaries in Ghana, a Senior Political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Emmanuel Debrah, has said.
“It has increased school enrolment, and reduced poverty and debt levels among the poor, especially households that have women as heads. It has also boosted the activities of peasant farmers.
“The stipend has increased the poor peoples’ confidence and status in the community”, Prof Debrah explained.
He asked that mechanism should be put in place to offer beneficiaries investment capital that could make them financially independent.
“Let’s work out a mechanism to give people investment capital so they can be weaned off and be out of poverty,” Prof Debrah said at Multi-Stakeholder Social Accountability Policy Advocacy Forum held in Accra on Wednesday.
The LEAP programme, which aims at alleviating short-term poverty and encourage long-term capital development is a social cash transfer programme that provides cash and health insurance to the extremely poor households across the country.
The forum was organized by Penplusbytes (PPB), in collaboration with the Centre for Democratic Development and SEND Ghana to help identify issues militating against social intervention programmes, including the School feeding and the LEAP programmes being implemented by the state.
The forum forms part of activities under the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) two-year funded project called, “Tech Driven Social Accountability for Results”.
Tech Driven Social Accountability for Results’ is aimed at equipping ordinary citizens with usable information, through online and mobile-based platform to ensure their purposeful participation in demanding accountability and responsiveness from decision makers while monitoring social intervention programmes such as LEAP and the Ghana School Feeding Programme.
During a panel discussion at the forum, Prof Debrah said the challenges in the inconsistency of the payment system of monies to beneficiaries was a worrying and that should be addressed as soon as possible.
He said some families who depended so much on the money face difficulties as they waited for more than two months before they received the lump sum.
Dr Franklin Oduro, Deputy Executive Officer of CDD on his part, said the LEAP was gradually moving people away from poverty and that it has had significant impact on families.
He said there was however, the need, to measure and know the effect on the people while effort should be made to increase the amount being given towards a more sustainable capital based for the people.
Mr Kwami Ahiabenu II, Executive Director of Penplusbytes said the forum was providing the opportunity for social accountability actors to come out with common issues for a concerted advocacy on better service delivery in the selected social intervention policies by government.
The meeting would therefore have the overall goal of leveraging on the findings of “Tech-Driven Social Accountability for results” project and other similar projects to agree on common issues for advocacy, increase the contribution of civil society in promoting accountability in health and education issues.
Mr Jerry Sam, Project Director at Penplusbytes said the Tech Driven Social Accountability for Results Projects, was being implemented in, Ellembelle District Assembly in the Western Region and Ashaiman Municipal Assembly in the Greater Accra Region.
He said the project which had one more year to run, was helping monitoring the LEAP and School feeding programmes as well as “to help close the gap between what citizens want and what government actually do”.
“Essentially, it is a way to stimulate demand from citizens and thus put pressure on the state to meet their obligations in providing quality services”, he said.
He said in implementing the programme, there had been a revelation of poor information flow among the citizens, on various social intervention policy and programmes with citizens having unrealistic expectations of the government.
Mr Mawutor Ablo, Director for Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, on behalf of the Sector Minister, commended Penplusbytes and its partners for the Tech Driven project to help analyse the two critical social interventions of the state.
He said Ghana’s main aim was to use social intervention programmes to alleviate poverty among the poor and vulnerable in the country, adding that the Ministry had been working since the implementation of the LEAP and School Feeding to co-ordinate the activities to the benefit of the beneficiaries.
He said a national housing registry was to be carried out to collect up-to date data on households to help improve the proper implementation of critical social intervention programmes.