The World Bank on Monday April 4 released GHS 42 million through the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project 2 (GPSNP 2), to support Government of Ghana (GoG) to 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 have been 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 will help cushion GoG in the interim as efforts are made to identify and provide sustainable, and reliable funding for the LEAP program and social protection interventions, in general” said Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The LEAP program is one of the Government of Ghana’s flagship social protection programs, initiated in 2008. The program seeks to smoothen consumption of targeted extreme poor households, specifically focusing on poor within the following categories: orphans and vulnerable children, the elderly (65years and above) severely disabled, and pregnant women or mothers with children under one year.
The program also aims to increase access to basic social services like healthcare through the enrolment on the National Health Insurance Scheme, as well as boost human capital by encouraging beneficiary households to enroll their school-going aged children in school. Per the GPSNP 2 program design, beneficiary households receive cash grants through electronic payments 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 GHS32 to GHS53 per eligible beneficiary, per month. Over the years, the Government of Ghana has progressively increased the program’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 program’s implementation by progressively increasing its contribution to the program. It is currently funding approximately 80 percent of the total funding of the program, with development partners’ support comprising the remaining 20 percent.
Particularly within global economic downturns, such as the current one on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be important for the Government to identify ring-fenced funding to ensure regular payments of social welfare programs. 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.