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General News of Sunday, 3 February 2008

Source: Nii Kwaku Osabutey ANNY

Cash for the Poor: The case of John Adabomse

Over 164,000 extremely poor to benefit

John Adabomse was one of the numerous persons I met on a trip to the North during last year?s floods that swallowed large tracts of farmlands and rendered hundreds homeless. I met him at Mutiense, a village in the outskirts of Builsa in the Upper East Region. He was lazily sitting under a tree at a nearby primary school wondering about the future. He had lost his single room mud-house and a parcel of land on which he farmed had been swallowed by the wavering water.

The only item he had at the time was a small basket with a collection of groundnuts to feed on. At the time I met him he was looking forward to receiving relief items from the Assembly. He told me things were not really exciting for him even before the floods and with the floods, things will be worse.

The decision by government to give out ?financial handouts? as it has been described by a politician; to the country?s extremely poor would be welcoming news to Mr. Adabomse.

The dailyEXPRESS is in no position to know whether or not he would be considered an extremely poor person but if government?s definition of an extremely poor person is anything to go by then, the intended Gh?8 to Gh?15 a month might reach him.

A report released by the Statistical Service on the Ghana Living Standard Survey (2005-2006) indicates that about 41% are poor out of which 18.2% are extremely poor. The report said these are poor people whose income fall below US$1.00 and are unable to cater for their basic human needs including their food requirements and suffer from poverty across generations.

One might not be far from the truth to say that Mr. Adabomse falls within that category. And he might be lucky enough to receive the cash amount government intends giving out to the extremely poor. He stands a chance of having his situation improving. Government is confident the amount will help the likes of him buy seeds for planting, buy food to feed himself and clothes to wear. And if possible feed his family on the amount. All for four good weeks.

At a press conference in Accra, Minister for Manpower, Youth and Employment Nana Akomea said the money to be given to people like Adabomse (that is if he?ll get the money) will go a long way to cushion them from their poor status, while bringing them some dignity. Nana Akomea told journalists that direct cash transfer as part of a social policy is widely accepted.

He concedes that the money will not eradicate poverty but will play a complementary role to existing social interventions that will go a long way to alleviate poverty.

?Beneficiaries are assisted over a period to build socio-economic capacity to cater for subsistence needs,? he said. ?While on the programme LEAP beneficiaries, targeted households would be linked with other livelihood promotion services from other MDA?s to sustain the livelihood beyond the LEAP.?

Mr. Akomea cited the Health Insurance, Capitation Grant, School feeding programme as some of the interventions to support the programme. He also disclosed that various poverty alleviation measures would have various degrees of targets, impact, or incidence.

Nana Akomea said the transfer would target households who would be given identity cards to enable them access the money. ?We are talking about households who with an HIV have difficulty raising the highly subsidized Gh?5 of monthly treatment.?

He also mentioned that the exercise has been successfully implemented in Bolivia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Zambia and Costa Rica. He however failed to tell journalists the side effects of the programme.

So by estimation John Adabomse, if he?s lucky enough, would be among the over one hundred and sixty four thousand extremely poor people government hope to put direct cash into their pocket. And he would be expected to have graduated successfully from an extremely poor scale to a slightly higher.

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