VP Shares Ghana's Experience in the Fight against Poverty
As in most traditional societies or countries, the concept of poverty in Ghana is a recent phenomenon, which has come about as a result of a number of factors including modernization and economic development. There was communal or family ownership of wealth.
Everybody was he/her brother’s keeper through the extended family system. With the advent of colonialism and the introduction of a cash economy, formal education, the extended family system gave way to the nuclear family system. Modern economic development in Ghana made some regions more endowed in terms of development than others.
Poverty therefore came about as a result of difference in opportunities for economic development.
Since independence, the Government of Dr Kwame Nkrumah crated a seven-year development plan to accelerate Ghana’s development. Education was made free and compulsory particularly in the northern part of Ghana. Infrastructure development was stepped up (roads, harbours, hospitals, schools, etc) mechanized agriculture through state farms was introduced.
The military interventions over the years threw the economy out of gear. This lead to the introduction of several reform initiatives like the
ERP and the structural Adjustment programs to set right the macroeconomic fundamental. These adjustments came with a lot of pain. Mitigation measures like (PAMSCAD) were introduced to support the marginalized against hardships.
Over the years, Governments in Ghana have tried to address the issue of poverty through a number of policy initiatives in various sectors of the economy.
Over 60% of Ghana’s population is in this sector of the economy, which is characterized by small holding farmers, unreliable rainfall, degraded soil through shifting cultivation, lack of mechanized farm equipments, absence of improved seeds and fertilizers.
All these affect food security and rural incomes. To address this, government over the years is modernizing agric, constructing irrigation dams, providing improved seeds and subsidizing fertilizers as well as providing extension field officers.
Government has also introduced block farm, livestock, fisheries and agro business programs for the youth as a way of creating jobs while making sure the country has food security.
Ghana has through this, been able to reduce extreme poverty from 36.5% to 18.2% between 1991 and 2006. We have also (almost) halved the proportion of people living below the upper poverty line from 51.7% to 28.5% over the same period.
As at now, the national food buffer stock company is a state owned enterprise responsible for food security. Buffer stock and minimum guaranteed competitive price for target crops aimed at ensuring sustainable income and last resort market.
Cash crop farmers like cocoa, coffee etc turn to earn better incomes through export commodity prices even though world price fluctuations sometimes puts them at a disadvantage
Educations underpins human resource development base in any country. Currently, no child in Ghana walks up to three kilometres to school. Enrolment of girls in schools has risen tremendously reaching a 1 to 1 parity in urban centres.
Cultural practices in rural areas however sometimes militate against sending girls to school. Massive investment in primary and secondary education is on course. Out of 4,320 schools under trees that existed across the country in 2008, 1,728 have been completed and the program is still on course. As an incentive for parents to send their kids to school in deprived communities, 60% of children in public basic schools have benefited from free school uniforms; 45 m exercise books was also distributed.
A component of the school fees known as capitation grant that used to be paid by parents is now being supported by the government. A school-feeding program that provides nutritional meals to school pupils in deprived areas has also been introduced.
To improve the quality of education, teacher training schools have also been expanded.
The corner stone of the health delivery system in Ghana is primary health care. Health service delivery is underpinned by the National Health Insurance Scheme. Coverage has been increased from 14m in 2008 to 22.4m in 2011, which represents about 89% of the population.
Institutional maternal mortality ratio declined from 170/1000 live births in 2009 to 164/1000 births in 2010. Infant Mortality rates have also improved from 49.89 per 1000 live births in 2010 to 46.55 per 1000 live births in 2011.
From a prevalent number of 189,000, government reduced guinea worm infection to only 8 cases in 2010. And by 2011, guinea worm infestation has been eradicated in Ghana. The WHO is in the process of confirming this and eventually declares Ghana guinea worm free country.
Sanitation however, still remains a major challenge which is being tackled my government.
Other social intervention programmes
Ghana Social Opportunity Project has been designed to facilitate the graduation of poor households out of poverty by exploiting synergies.NYEP has numerous modules including Youth in agriculture, LESDEP etc. New skills development modules also added to NYEP.
Add Savanna Accelerated Development Authority and ongoing activities to bridge divide in inequalities between South and North of Ghana.
Revenue mobilization through improved legislation, broadening of the tax net is being implemented for critical infrastructure development. Regarding Oil revenues management, pieces of legislation have also been made to ensure transparency and accountability.
The Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) ensures transparency in disbursement of revenues from the oil and gas industry.
Source : Office of the Vice President