General News of Thursday, 14 February 2008
Accra, 13, Feb. GNA - Ghana has made significant progress in poverty reduction, improvement in socio-economic development, good governance, youth and gender empowerment and is also the first country in Africa to achieve Millennium Development Goal 1.
Ghana was therefore, commended for the successes it had chalked in halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty from 36 per cent in 1991/1992 to 18.2 per cent in 2005/2006 with a decline in overall poverty incidences from 51.75 per cent in 1991/1992 to 28.5 per cent in 2005/2006.
These were contained in speech by Mr. Daouda Troure, United Nations' Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative at the launch of the Ghana National Human Development Report for 2007. He called on Ghanaians to work hard towards the attainment of a more inclusive society since it formed an integral part in the development of the nation.
"The relevance of inclusion has been acknowledged as a core issue in sustainable poverty reduction and human development". The 197-page report put together by UNDP is under the theme: "Towards A More Inclusive Society".
Independent senior academics from the University of Ghana with technical assistance from the Ministries of Manpower, Youth and Employment, Finance and Economic Planning, National Development Planning Commission, Ghana Statistical Service and other UN agencies were tasked to work on the report.
Mr. Troure said although recent progress registered by the country had led to wealth creation and poverty reduction, its equitable distribution still remained a challenge and commended government for the recent allocation of budgetary resources for the Northern Development Fund which aimed at developing the three Northern regions. Mr. Troure noted that the principles of meaningful human rights could only be realized when the nation was able to escape from degrading poverty and could also rely on a strong inclusive society. He commended government for its decision to help improve upon the lot of the three Northern regions by the introduction of Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) program adding, "it will bring them to the mainstream of economic development of the country". Mr. Troure assured government of UNDP and the UN's assistance in offering timely and relevant technical and logistical support to ensure effective collaboration in contributing to the improvement of lives of Ghanaians.
Mr. Mike Hammond, Country Director of Department For International Department (DFID), praised the nation for its impressive legislative framework to protect the vulnerable in society and also for being one of the first African nations to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty.
He bemoaned instances in the report whereby disabled persons were not benefiting from the formal sector, the three northern regions still underdeveloped in terms of infrastructure and women and children less likely to benefit from formal sector job placement as compared to their male counterparts.
Mr. Hammond however, commended government for recognizing the issues raised and had introduced interventions such as the Disability Act, the National Social Protection Strategy and the eradication of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, which were aimed at protecting the vulnerable in the society.
He pledged UK's continuous support and partnership to help Ghana with the critical transition from good legislation to actual implementation on the ground.
Professor Daniel Adzei Bekoe Chairman of Council of State, who presided said though there were indicators that poverty level in the country had lowered generally, the numbers in poverty category in the three northern regions was still too high. He said the various forms of social exclusion had decreased from 31.4 percent in 1991-1992 to 17.6 per cent in 2005-2006 and challenged stakeholders to ensure an all inclusive society.