WASHINGTON, May 27, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved continuing support to Ghana as the West African nation seeks to further reduce poverty and expand social opportunities for the poorest people through public works employment and grants for poor households.
The USS50 million credit for the Ghana Social Opportunities Project aims to extend Ghana’s Labor-Intensive Public Works (LIPW) program from 49 to 60 districts, as well as to scale up grants from 100,000 to 150,000 poor households through the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) program. Also, social protection systems will be strengthened through improved targeting and the establishment of a National Household Registry.
“The Ghana Social Opportunities Project supports Ghana’s efforts to fight poverty in the country’s poorest regions and to ensure that poor and vulnerable households are not left behind as the economy grows,” said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Ghana. “This will build on Ghana’s gains in recent decades, which include reducing the poverty rate from 52 percent in 1992 to 28 percent in 2006, and help the country to make faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
The ongoing public works program has already exceeded the number of beneficiaries targeted; with over 80,000 people benefiting directly, against a target of 13,000. Climate change public works projects have been the most labor-intensive, followed by small earth dams and dugouts, roads and social infrastructure.
Both the public works and household grant programs have achieved excellent gender-targeted results. Sixty percent of public works beneficiaries and 69 percent of household grant beneficiaries so far have been female; these programs 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.
“Across Sub-Saharan Africa, governments have been turning to social protection initiatives to reach the poorest people with income-generation opportunities and cash transfers,” said Suleiman Namara, World Bank Task Team Leader for the Ghana Social Opportunities Project. “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.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing zero-interest loans and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 82 poorest countries, 40 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $16 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.