A project to economically empower beneficiaries of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme by putting them into commercial activities thereby enabling them to successfully exit LEAP has begun in the Northern Region.
As part of the project dubbed: “Civil Society Organisations in Research and Innovation for Sustainable Development,” (CSOs RISE), potentially productive LEAP beneficiaries would be organised into farmer-based organisations and trained on group dynamics and best agricultural practices to undertake rice cultivation.
They would also be trained on business development and financial literacy as well as link them to buyers including facilitating the development of a pension scheme for them to improve savings amongst them.
The year-long project is being implemented in the Mion and Tolon Districts of the Northern Region by NORSAAC in partnership with Youth Advocacy on Rights and Opportunities (YARO) with funding from Christian Aid Ghana.
Madam Hafsatu Sey Sumani, Head of Programmes and Policy at NORSAAC, who spoke at an inception workshop on the project in Tamale, said it was to contribute to inclusive growth through research and sound financial modeling to reduce social inequalities in the northern part of the country.
The workshop was to introduce the project to its other partners, which included Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Peasant Farmers, SSNIT, District Assemblies, as well as discuss activities to be undertaken as part of the project.
LEAP is one of the social protection initiatives implemented by the government providing cash and health insurance to the extremely poor households across the country with the aim to alleviate poverty and encourage long-term human capital development.
Beneficiaries of the LEAP programme are to be graduated or exited from the programme after every four years for new beneficiaries to be enrolled onto it.
However, 10 years since the implementation of LEAP, there have not been conscious efforts at exiting the beneficiaries and no major efforts at providing alternative livelihoods for some beneficiaries, who are capable of been exited from the programme, hence the CSOs RISE project.
Mr Inusah Atchulo, Deputy Northern Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare said assessment of LEAP beneficiaries showed that they were still poor hence the inability to exit them from the programme.
Mr Kobina Yeboah Okyere, Country Director of Christian Aid Ghana argued that people could not continue to be on LEAP forever suggesting LEAP beneficiaries, who were potentially productive be supported to engage in income generating activities to enable them to gradually exit the programme.
Mr Abdul-Razak Ahmed, Project Officer at the Northern Regional Office of the National Board for Small Scale Industries, who spoke on opportunities available to vulnerable groups, advised such persons to venture into activities in the agricultural sector including petty trading to generate income for self-sustenance.
Mr Edward Abanga Abagre, Tamale Area Manager of SSNIT Informal Sector, advised especially informal sector workers to take advantage of the third tier pension scheme to contribute to it to guarantee them funds during retirement.