Authorities and residents of the Upper Manya Krobo District in the Eastern Region want an increased enrollment on the Livelihood and Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) project to support prospective beneficiaries.
According to them, though the project and other social interventions by government has closed poverty gaps, there are still over one thousand people yet to be captured
The Upper Manya Krobo district was created in 2008.
It is among the districts with a higher percentage of its population categorised as “pro-poor”, made up of peasant farmers.
Currently 2,690 of its population in 79 communities are LEAP beneficiaries.
Testimonies of beneficiaries
At Asesewa Zongo, 90-year-old Folara Kalilu, is into petty trading. She has enjoyed LEAP support for two years now after her legs got weak affecting her ability to fend for herself, her grandkids and to buy medicine.
She says but for the LEAP support she may not be alive now.
“I use to struggle before raising money for the children’s schools fees, now that leap has come, I can get some money to buy food and also settle the children’s school fees, I just hope this will continue and will not stop”
Fati Musah is another beneficiary of the leap programme. For every two months she receives GHC 106.00 for herself and household numbering four. The money supports her charcoal and groundnut business as well her dependents.
She said the support has helped her a lot and hopes the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection increases it for them.
‘’Leap is my savior, I use to struggle to even find food, now I can buy food for my children and myself, I however have many friends who are unable to fend for themselves because they are not on leap, I think putting them on it will help them”, she said.
Kodjo Amuanor has recovered from stroke, he is unable to engage in strenuous work. He has been on LEAP support for over three years now.
He said leap has helped him start a small business.
“I used my first tranche of money to purchase iron sheets for my small local poultry business and also some tools to support my farm work, however the money is small and if government can increase it”, he pleaded
He recalls, due to hardship his children dropped out of school and could not further their education to the Senior High School (SHS) until the Free Senior High School (FSHS) was introduced.
He is hopeful of receiving increased support to get labour to work on his farm and asked for weighing machine for the local poultry he sells.
Send Ghana, a non-governmental organization’s research shows citizens are enthused about the LEAP project but want the programme expanded because there are many poor people yet to be captured
The LEAP is a cash transfer program introduced by the government in 2008 for extremely poor and vulnerable households which have three categories of eligible members.
Orphaned and vulnerable children, persons with disability without productive capacities and elderly who are 65 years and above are eligible to benefit from the LEAP.
The aim of the LEAP program is to reduce poverty by increasing and smoothening consumption and promoting access to services and opportunities among the extremely poor and vulnerable.
Specific objectives include, improvement of nutrition among children below two, the aged and people with severe disability. It is aimed at increasing access to health and basic school enrollment. The amount beneficiaries of LEAP receive differs from one household to another.
Selection of beneficiaries
Assistant Officer at the Social Welfare and Community Development of the Upper Manya Krobo District, Ayisha Hoyaha, and selection of applicants is solely done by the national office of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection after local persons in the district have helped applicants to electronically fill questionnaire forms.
Payment used to be by cash at post offices, but beneficiaries within a 5km radius use e-zwich services at banks closer to them.
Beneficiaries in very far communities are reached by personnel from the Social Welfare Department with the E-zwich services
“’ The LEAP support to beneficiaries has improved the poverty gap in Upper Manya Krobo district and hoped more genuine beneficiaries are added on ,but my outfit is challenged by the quota system we have to adhere to”. She insists any conversation on LEAP should be centered on capturing more vulnerable people.
The District Chief Executive, Odjao Felix Nartey proposed a further decentralization of the system to ensure more beneficiaries are enrolled. He called for a five percent increase of enrollment of the current figure to ensure the poverty gap is further narrowed. He said the district has more people who need to be put on leap
‘’The district is one of the rural district with majority of people being rural farmers, our leap register had just above 1000 before 2017, when I came into office, we took an initiative to educate people on the requirement to qualify for leap because we noticed a lot more people need support, at the end of the exercise we had 1,761 people on the register, it tells you we need to expand the programme more”’, he said.