The World Bank has released GH¢42million through the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project 2 (GPSNP 2) to support the government of Ghana (GoG) pay two cycles of arrears – 75th and 76th cycles – of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) for 344,000 beneficiary households.
The ongoing global economic challenges, which were worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, have increased the economic strain domestically, – leading to progressive delays in LEAP payments. This has in turn impacted LEAP beneficiaries, notably the poor and vulnerable who naturally suffer the most.
“We are happy to support in the interest of beneficiaries to assist government with the LEAP payments, to avoid eroding gains made over the years and safeguard beneficiary households’ wellbeing and their resilience to shocks. These payments will be completed in April 2022 and help cushion GoG in the interim as efforts are made to identify and provide sustainable, and reliable funding for the LEAP programme and social protection interventions in general,” said Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The LEAP programme is one of the Ghana government’s flagship social protection programmes, initiated in 2008. The programme seeks to smoothen consumption of targetted extreme poor households, specifically focusing on poor people within the following categories: orphans and vulnerable children; the elderly (65 years and above) severely disabled; and pregnant women or mothers with children under one year.
The programme also aims at increasing access to basic social services like healthcare through enrolment onto the National Health Insurance Scheme, as well as boosting human capital by encouraging beneficiary households to enrol their school-going aged children in school. Per the GPSNP 2 programme-design, beneficiary households receive cash grants through electronic payment every two months. The cash benefit sizes differ, depending on how many persons in the household are considered eligible to receive the grant.
The benefit ranges from GH¢32 to GH¢53 per eligible beneficiary per month. Over the years, government has progressively increased the programme’s beneficiary reach from 1,645 beneficiary households in a few districts at initiation in 2008, to a current reach of 344,023 beneficiary households in all districts across the country. Additionally, government has demonstrated its commitment to the programme’s implementation by progressively increasing its contribution to the programme. It is currently funding approximately 80 percent of total funding for the programme, with development partners’ support comprising the remaining 20 percent.
Particularly within global economic downturns, such as the current one due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be important for the government to identify ring-fenced funding to ensure regular payments of social welfare programmes. The World Bank remains committed to working with the government of Ghana through both technical and financial support, in its agenda to support the poor and vulnerable populations through needed social assistance programming.