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The GNHR, Tackling Poverty One Household At A Time   
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History is replete with examples of leaders who have faced revolts because of their indifference towards the realities citizens cope with everyday. King Agorkoli of the Ewe people was abandoned by his subjects in response to his cruel ways.

They breached the defensive walls of their city and resettled in other lands, leaving the King to deal with his bloated ego. In France, Louis XVI’s subjects chose confrontation over flight when rising social inequality and economic mismanagement sparked the French Revolution.

Philosophers, sages, kings and great religious leaders have over the ages accepted that for peace stability and development to prevail in any jurisdiction, there is the need to ensure that all citizens have the opportunity to live a dignified life with access to the basic necessities. This idea has in modern times been identified as an issue of social justice, which is recognized as a human right.

The reality however is that in spite of all the great strides made by mankind, and the great wealth that is produced globally, a significant percentage of the world’s citizens continue to live in abject poverty.

In Ghana, considerable progress has been made in reducing poverty nationwide. Available data indicates that between 1991 and 2006 the number of Ghanaians living below the poverty line has reduced from 51.87% to 28.5% whiles the population of extremely poor Ghanaians has dropped from 36.5% to 18.2%. The Ghana Living Standards Survey 6 (2013) shows that there has been a further drop, with poverty rates reducing to 24.6% and extreme poverty rates to 8.4%.

The fact however remains that the number of Ghanaians who continue to live among us in poverty and extreme poverty is unconscionable, considering the vast resources and potential of the country.

One of the tools governments have used since the early 20th century to tackle poverty is Social Protection, which refers to policies and programmes designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by decreasing the exposure of citizens to economic and social risks such as unemployment, sickness, disability, old age and exclusion. The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MoGCSP) is the ministry mandated to harmonize and coordinate all social intervention programmes in the country.

Social protection is critical in promoting human development, political stability and inclusive growth, giving the poor and vulnerable in society a foothold to climb out of poverty.
A number of social intervention programmes are currently being implemented nationwide.

Prominent among them is the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme. LEAP is a conditional cash transfer programme currently being implemented in about 50% of the districts in Ghana. It targets extremely poor households and gives preference to households that include one or more orphans, vulnerable children, people over the age of 65 and people with severe disabilities. The programme has about 246,000 beneficiaries, soon to be scaled up to 500,000.

Other social intervention programmes include the School Feeding Programme which aims to boost enrolment in basic schools by providing one free nutritious meal to pupils every day, the National Health Insurance Scheme and the Labour Intensive Public Works (LIPW) programme. Despite the important role all these pro-poor programmes play, there is the critical challenge of ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable citizens are the ones that benefit.

Currently the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that implement these programmes have their own independent criteria for deciding who benefits and who does not.

The effectiveness, efficiency and economy (value for money) of any social protection program depends on the effective targeting of the extremely poor, vulnerable and excluded people. To achieve this, the Government through MoGCSP is establishing a single registry database of the poorest and most vulnerable households.

The registry is expected to identify and profile poor and vulnerable households in Ghana. This registry will be used by all social protection programs in the country to select beneficiaries for their various programs. The Ghana National Household Registry (GNHR), will be hosted and managed by the MoGCSP.

The GNHR is a tool that serves to identify, prioritize and select households living in poor and/or vulnerable conditions to ensure that the resources allocated to the different social programs effectively reach the people with greatest need, preventing their diversion into social groups not prioritized.

Based on a national poverty map, mobile targeting centres will be set up in communities nationwide to register poor and vulnerable households. The registration process is set to begin in the Upper West region in December 2015, after which it will be rolled out nationwide. The greatest benefit of the GNHR is that it will eliminate the duplication of efforts and costs among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Once the GNHR is in place, all MDAs involved in the implementation of pro-poor interventions will simply have to access the GNHR database to select their beneficiaries. The new system will also lead to greater objectivity and transparency in the administration of social intervention programmes.

It is important that the state continues to initiate and implement policies targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable sections of our society. Equally important, is the need to do this in an efficient and transparent manner.
Source: George Ferguson Laing

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