Tuesday, 28 June 2011

POVERTY: Ghana: 30% are poor

21 June 2011

It is official! One out of every three Ghanaians cannot afford the basic necessities of life. According to a report commissioned by the World Bank, 30 percent of Ghanaians are poor, in spite of several years of rapid economic development in the country.

The disparity in the poverty range of the country could not have been wider. According to the report, while on the average, 20 percent of Ghanaians in the south are poor, a whooping figure of 63 of every 100 Ghanaians in the north have no means of acquiring the basic necessities of life.
The report, entitled “Participatory Poverty and Vulnerability Assessment (PPVA): Understanding the Regional Dynamics of Poverty, with particular focus on Ghana’s Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions”, added that so many people in Ghana are vulnerable and slipping into poverty.
The Lead Economist of the World Bank, Sebastien Dessus, told participants at the Bank’s Development Dialogue series in Accra, yesterday, that while poverty generally, was coming down in Ghana, it was rather going up in the north.
A Researcher of the report, who is also an official of the Participatory Development Association (PDA), David Korboe, stated: “The most consistent descriptor of poverty is the inadequacy of food supplies on a year-round basis, especially, in rural and semi-urban areas.”
According to him, in the rural communities, with particularly children, the elderly, disabled people, women and men, the report mentioned hunger as an experience characterising poverty.
The report, which described poverty according to communities studied, indicated that in the Shai area in the Greater Accra Region, poverty is “when you cannot feed your children without begging.” Even in the more fertile southern sites such as Alikrom, Atta-ne-Atta and Kokrompeh, the poor migrant communities from the north are afflicted by hunger.
In one community, poverty is also “when people cannot afford basic needs” such as financing their children’s education, healthcare, or the trousseau or bride-wealth needed for marriage.
Mr. Korboe, therefore, indicated that the sheer lack of income-earning opportunities during the long slack season was decried by able-bodied adult groups, both in the savannah, as well as among those who had migrated south.
The PPVA, therefore, identifies multiples of factors such as ecological, economic, social and institutional, as the drivers and sustainers of vulnerability in the north.
Touching on capabilities of the north, Mr. Korboe told the well-attended forum: “Frequent interruptions to children’s schooling adversely affect their life chances. Boys are frequently pulled out of school to hunt, work in the fields and pastures, or help repair flood damaged walls.” Girls may be required to skip school in order to assist their mothers in the market.
The PPVA further stressed that in the rural schools especially, the lack of trained teachers was striking, denying the poorest children the opportunity to receive competitive education.
Contributing to the discussions, Dr. Augustine Gockel, a lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, said the sub-agricultural sectors were not driving growth in the agricultural industry, and therefore, called on the government to prioritise poverty interventions targeted at the north.

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