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General News of Monday, 27 March 2017

Source: thestatesmanonline.com

Gender ministry to disburse GHC16m LEAP cash

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection is expected to disburse January and February allocations of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty grants to beneficiaries across 216 districts in the country.

The sector Minister, Otiko Afisah Djaba, addressing journalists in Accra Friday, explained that a total of GHC16 million had been earmarked for disbursement to about 213,048 households across the country.

“During the payment, one eligible member household will receive GH 64; two eligible member household will receive GH 76; three eligible member household will receive GH 88 while four or more member eligible household will receive GH 106 for the months of January and February 2017,” she added.

Madam Otiko Djaba said government was committed to strengthening the LEAP programme to ensure it achieved much results and “progressively and steadily alleviate poverty in the country.”

In that regard, she said plans were underway to complement the cash distribution component with skill training modules to economically empower beneficiaries and gradually wean them off the programme to become self-dependent.

“Under the NPP, the original design of LEAP, which was not to create lifelong dependents but to ‘leap’ households out of poverty, will be pursued. In that direction, the cash transfer component will be complemented with training in income-generating activities with the view of equipping households with skills and resources they need, to help themselves out of poverty,” she said.

The Minister reiterated that government was determined to ensure that the LEAP intervention did not become a “source of political patronage.”

She stressed: “we will adopt an effective and accurate needs-testing strategy to identify and enroll deserving beneficiary households, establish a consistent monthly disbursement plan and target female-headed households where this intervention may have a greater impact.”

Enumerating some benefits the LEAP intervention had brought to some Ghanaians, Madam Otiko Djaba stated that close to 90,000 LEAP household members had been registered free of charge unto the National Health Insurance Scheme.

She added that a 2015 CDD-Ghana report had indicated that the programme had contributed to about 12 per cent increase in school enrolment of children of school going age across the country.

“Also, a report by ISSER and the University of North Carolina has shown that, LEAP has led to significant increase in holding savings by beneficiaries, impacted on debt repayments and reduced taking of loans particularly among female headed households, while encouraging social inclusion of beneficiaries,” she noted.

Madam Otiko Djaba pledged her Ministry’s commitment to efficiently implement various social intervention programmes to contribute towards national development and reduce the poverty levels in the country, especially among women, so as to enable them participate actively in the national discourse.

The government of Ghana introduced the LEAP programme in 2008 as part of six interventions in the country’s social protection basket aimed at preventing, reducing and eliminating economic and social vulnerabilities to poverty and deprivation to promote a rather resilient economy.

The programme covers extremely poor and vulnerable households, including orphans and vulnerable children, persons with severe disability without any productive capacity and elderly persons who are 65 years and above.

Beneficiaries under the LEAP programme are paid electronically on the e-zwich platform which requires biometric fingerprint verification of beneficiaries for payment to be effected to promote efficiency and accountability.

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