Government has not taken any decision to exit beneficiaries of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) from the LEAP programme, Mr Inusah Atchulo, Acting Northern Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare, has said.

He emphasised that discussions had been ongoing on whether or not to exit LEAP beneficiaries from the LEAP programme but no concrete decision had been taken yet.

Mr Atchulo was speaking at a forum in Tamale to disseminate research findings on needs assessment, market analyses and opportunities for LEAP beneficiaries and smallholder farmers in Tolon and Mion Districts of the Northern Region.

The research, commissioned last year by NORSAAC and Youth Advocacy on Rights and Opportunities with support from Christian Aid, was dubbed: “Civil Society Organisations Research on Social Protection for Development”.

A total of 316 LEAP beneficiaries in Tolon and Mion Districts were interviewed for the exercise.

Its objective was to assess the needs and analyse the markets and opportunities for LEAP beneficiaries and smallholder farmers in the selected districts with the view of examining the actions and interventions that could help them transition from dependency to self-reliance.

It identified various agricultural ventures that potentially productive LEAP beneficiaries could be supported to engage in such as crop production, livestock rearing, poultry production, trading in farm produce and agro-processing, fish farming, bee keeping, hairdressing, and tailoring to empower them to exit the LEAP programme.

It, therefore, recommended a commodity value chain financing approach where potentially productive LEAP beneficiaries and smallholder farmers would be supported to engage in such agricultural ventures for secure income.

Alhaji Alhassan Mohammed Awal, Executive Director of NORSAAC, said the structure of the LEAP programme did not make for beneficiaries to be empowered to exit the programme, which implied that they should remain poor throughout their lives hence the research to find productive ventures for the beneficiaries.

Alhaji Awal said there was no need for people to remain in poverty throughout their lives, expressing optimism that the commodity value chain financing approach proposed by the research would empower the beneficiaries such that they would not relapse into poverty.

Mr Kwadwo Owusu, Economics Governance and Transformation Officer at Christian Aid, said social protection was necessary but it must target the real people, who needed it to ensure judicious use of resources.

Mr Owusu said there was need to showcase success stories of the LEAP beneficiaries, who used their cash grants to undertake productive ventures to encourage other beneficiaries to emulate them.

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