World Bank Pump Funds Into Social Protection

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved continuing support to government’s empowerment of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to expand social opportunities for the poorest people through public works employment and grants for poor households. The Bank has approved US$ 50 million credit for the Ghana Social Opportunities Project which aims to extend Labor-Intensive Public Works (LIPW) programme from 49 to 60 districts. The project also aimed to scale up grants from 100,000 to 150,000 poor households through the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) programme and setting up of a National Household Registry to improve the targeting of social protection efforts in Ghana. Mr Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director said the Ghana Social Opportunities Project seeks to support government’s efforts to fight poverty in the poorest regions and to ensure that poor and vulnerable households are not left behind as the economy grows. “This will build on Ghana’s gains in recent decades, which include reducing the poverty rate from 52 per cent in 1992 to 28 per cent in 2006, and help the country to make faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals,” he said. The WB Country Director explained that the ongoing public works programme has already exceeded the number of beneficiaries targeted; with over 80,000 people benefiting directly, against a target of 13,000. He said climate change public works projects have been the most labor-intensive, followed by small earth dams and dugouts, roads and social infrastructure. He said both the public works and household grant programmes have achieved excellent gender-targeted results. He said 60 per cent of public works beneficiaries and 69 per cent of household grant beneficiaries so far have been female; “these programmes have therefore helped to empower women and increase their income. “One of the most important long-term aspects of the project is its funding for the integrated National Household Registry System which will help to expand the coverage and scope of social protection initiatives, and to allow more accurate selection of households based on their socioeconomic status”. In his contribution, Mr Suleiman Namara, WB Task Team Leader for the Ghana Social Opportunities Project said Across Sub-Saharan Africa; governments have been turning to social protection initiatives to reach the poorest people with income-generation opportunities and cash transfers. He said when these activities are coordinated and targeted well and driven by strong policies, there can be rapid gains against poverty. The Ghana Social Opportunities Project will be implemented by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, and will run until 2017. Nana Oye Lithur, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that that the Social Protection policy aimed at achieving gender equality and equity; to facilitate the enforcement of the rights of children; to promote the integration and protection of the vulnerable, excluded and people with disability. She said it is rights-based approach, and an expression of the Government's commitment towards reducing inequality and poverty in Ghana by subsidising the provision of basic social services such as education, health, water and sanitation. Nana Oye Lithur said it is estimated that by 2018, the Social Protection Floor would cost not more than 2.2 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, and could reduce extreme poverty rates by up to 2.2 percentage points. “A national targeting system (NTS) is being developed by the Gender Ministry as part of an agreement between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development,” she stated. She said the NTS is used as a tool to identify, prioritise, and select households living in vulnerable conditions; and that it will ensure more efficient and effective allocation of limited resources within the varied social protection programmes to those in greatest need. She said under the component a NTS would embark on national registry of households, collecting a set of key characteristics of each household (number of household members and living conditions). “Individual social protection intervention programmes can then identify how best to target their efforts based on the registration data,” Nana Oye Lithur stated. She said NTS is now targeting the following programmes: Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) cash transfer programme implemented under Gender Ministry. Others are the Labour Intensive Public Works implemented under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Exempt Category under the National Health Insurance Scheme implemented under Ministry of Health; Pro-Poor interventions for poor peasant farmers including block farming under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The rest are Free School Uniform and Exercise books implemented under Ministry of Education; School Feeding Programme under Ministry of Local Government; Local Enterprise and Skills