The Government of Ghana in partnership with its development partners has launched an expanded component of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme called LEAP 1000, which seeks to impact the lives of 6000 households in ten districts in the Northern and Upper East Regions.
Designed to fight extreme poverty and stunting in Ghana, LEAP 1000 is a social cash transfer programme which provides financial support and health insurance to extremely poor households across Ghana.
“It will alleviate short-term poverty and encourage long term human capital development. The programme is designed to prevent stunting, underweight and general malnutrition among children during the first one thousand days of their lives, from pregnancy to two years” USAID Mission Director James Bever said in a statement at the launch in Tamale.
The programme which is being implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection over 4.5 years (2014-2018) is financed by USAID through UNICEF. The US$12 million programme would be implemented in Yendi, Mion, Tolon, East Mamprusi, Karaga, Kumbungu, East Gonja, Bongo, Bawku West and Garu-Tempane districts.
Countries with the lowest economic indicators report the highest rate of malnutrition, especially in children, Ms. Dela Sowah, Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection said in her statement. “Children, in fact, typically represent the economic future of a country. Efforts to address malnutrition therefore, will eventually end up in promoting economic growth and decrease poverty rates”, she observed.
|Ms. Dela Sowah|
According to Ms. Sowah, the Ghana Statistical Service ‘Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2011’ reveals, that stunting affects more than one in four (22.7%) of Ghanaian children under five years. “This means that over 800,000 Ghanaian children are stunted. There are wide disparities in stunting across regions: (13.7% in Greater Accra, Up to 37.4% in the Northern Region)”, she noted.
The Deputy Minister further explained: “The target is extreme poor households with pregnant women and/or children below the age of one. Priority will be given to pregnant women. After identifying all eligible pregnant women, the programme will identify women or household with children below six months and then below one year”, she stated.
In order of priority, Ms. Sowah also pointed out that, through the LEAP 1000 each beneficiary would be given GH¢30.00 monthly; two beneficiaries GH¢36.00 monthly; and three beneficiaries GH¢45.00 monthly.
Meanwhile, LEAP 1000 is expected to result in significant reduction in poverty among children in households in the selected programme districts as it increases the availability of financial resources for households for better nutrition of children.