The World Bank has released GH₵ 42 million through the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project 2 (GPSNP 2) to support the government to pay two cycles of arrears 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.
A statement issued in Accra said this had 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 the government with the LEAP payments to avoid eroding gains made over the years and safeguard beneficiary households’ wellbeing and their resilience to shocks,” it said.
Mr Pierre Laporte, the World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, said these payments would be completed in April 2022 and would help cushion the government in the interim as efforts were made to identify and provide sustainable, and reliable funding for the LEAP programme and social protection interventions, in general.
The LEAP programme is one of the Government of Ghana’s flagship social protection programs, initiated in 2008.
The programme 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.
It also aimed to increase access to basic social services like healthcare through the enrollment 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.
It said per the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project (GPSNP) 2 programme design, beneficiary households receive cash grants through electronic payments every two months and 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.
The statement said over the years, the government had 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, the government had demonstrated its commitment to the programme’s implementation by progressively increasing its contribution to the program.
It is currently funding approximately 80 percent of the total funding of the programme, with development partners’ support comprising the remaining 20 percent.
It said particularly within global economic downturns, such as the current one on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be important for the government to identify ring-fenced funding to ensure regular payments of social welfare programmes.
The World Bank remained committed to working with the government, through both technical and financial support, in its agenda to support the poor and vulnerable populations, through needed social assistance programming.