The World Bank on Monday released an amount of GH¢42 million through the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project Two to the government to pay two cycles of arrears of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP).
The arrears under the 75th and 76th cycles will benefit 344,000 beneficiaries under the programme.
The World Bank in a statement issued in Accra yesterday and copied to the Ghanaian Times said the ongoing global economic challenges, which had been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, had increased the economic strain domestically, leading to progressive delays in LEAP payments.
That, the World Bank, said had impacted LEAP beneficiaries, notably the poor and vulnerable who naturally suffered 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 Government of Ghana in the interim as efforts are made to identify and provide sustainable, and reliable funding for the LEAP programme and social protection interventions, in general,” said Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The statement said the LEAP programme was one of the government of Ghana’s flagship social protection programmes, initiated in 2008 and sought to promote the 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 said the programme also aimed 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 enrol their school-going aged children in school.
“Per the GPSNP 2 programme 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 statement said.
It said the benefit ranged from GH¢32 to GH¢53 per eligible beneficiary, per month.
Over the years, the Government of Ghana has 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, government has demonstrated its commitment to the programmes’ implementation by progressively increasing its contribution to the programme. It is currently funding approximately 80 percent of the total funding of the programme, 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 programmes,” the statement said.
It said the World Bank remained 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.