The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba has assured Ghanaians especially the vulnerable and marginalized in society that, government will change the face of the country through the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) program. She said Ghana is the best place for every Ghanaian and ‘we need to feel good and proud about that by developing our communities so that people feel good about staying in there.’

The Minister disclosed that, some 2,188 households nation-wide are covered under the emergency LEAP. She revealed that, figures from the northern region alone are 1,142 households out of the total 2,188 expected to benefit from the emergency Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty. Hon Otiko mentioned that, the Sagnarigu municipality has the highest number with 540 households, followed by Nanumba North, 384 households and the Tamale metro with 218. “This is as a result of the floods that occurred last year, she noted further.” “We are increasing the LEAP from the 213, 000 plus to 456, 000 households and we have currently started the targeting in West Mamprusi, Savelugu municipality, Yendi, Central Gonja, Sagnarigu and Chereponi.

We are going through the targeting in all the 254 districts and I want plead with you to focus, look sharp and ensure that nobody is left out …the Regional Minister was talking about partisanship; you are here, poverty has no colour, so once the very vulnerable poor are in your districts, I want plead with you that, as the enumerators come along, you work with them, you monitor them, you evaluate them, if somebody is left out under all the category you are to draw their attention to it, so I plead with you to have several meetings with the DCEs in their districts so that we will know the total targets we are looking for and weather we are hitting the mark to ensure that we capture everybody, we are going to change this country and even move from the LEAP into a well-functioning and well-resourced social welfare state where nobody is left out or behind, she stated.”

Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba made these remarks during a sensitization forum for the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives and their Coordinators from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions in Tamale on the LEAP program, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Meanwhile, the programme currently covers all 254 districts nation-wide with 213, 044 beneficiary households, which translates into about 937, 904 individuals. Out of the 937, 904 individual LEAP household members, women constitute 56% while men are 44%.  In terms of the eligible categories; Orphan and Vulnerable Children are 42%; persons with severe disability 18%; Elders of 65 years and beyond 32%, extremely poor pregnant women and Infants are 1% and 7% respectively.

For his part, the Northern Regional Minister, Mr. Salifu Sa-eed was optimistic that, through the work shop, the MMDCEs and MMDCDs will acquire the relevant knowledge and skills on LEAP and best practices from their sister districts. He indicated that, consequently, you will be able to make informed choice and decisions on LEAP programmes, thus promoting easy access to social protection interventions towards meeting basic human needs of beneficiary households and also preventing the shortcomings that have characterized other social protection interventions in the past.

Mr. Salifu Sa-eed said in spite of the successes chalked under the program, LEAP still has its challenges. He added that, misconceptions about the programme among some sections of the population that LEAP makes people lazy; the limited coverage of the programme – not all extremely poor population of the 2.2 million is covered; and graduation and exit of beneficiaries. He implored the MMDCEs to work closely with other stakeholders to address the challenges being faced by the programme and urged further to consolidate their successes and take the LEAP programme to greater heights.

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