Discussants on poverty dynamics in the country have urged the government to implement programmes that foster productivity growth in small-scale farming, particularly in rural areas and northern Ghana.
They said such initiatives could help break the cycle of poverty and support non-poor households to improve upon their livelihoods.
The discussants included a lecturer at the African School of Economics, Benin Campus, Dr Dede W. Gafa; Researcher, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, Louis S. Hodey, and Prof. Bernardin Senadza of the Department of Economics, University of Ghana,
The workshop was on the topic: “Poverty dynamics in Ghana”, and was held in Accra by the Department of Economics, University of Ghana.
Participants included representatives of the World Bank, the Ghana Statistical Service, the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER), and the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), among others.
Dr Gafa, however, said efforts at ensuring productivity growth in the agriculture and informal sectors needed to be accompanied with balanced investments,”investments that bridge the existing infrastructure gaps between northern and southern Ghana, and rural and urban dwellings,” she said.
Dr Gafa said the implementation of social programmes in the country must also focus on building resilience of vulnerable households to shocks.
“The country needs to be intentional about providing more equal access and opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds in terms of education and employment,” she said.
Dr Gafa further said that social spending by the government must ensure the right balance between fiscal sustainability and reaching the “left behind”.
Prof. Senadza on the other hand, recommended that existing flagship programmes such as Planting for Food and Jobs and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiatives should be complemented by a multifaceted, sustainable rural and infrastructure development programmes, particularly in northern Ghana.
Additionally, he said pro-poor policies and programmes that sought to ensure equal access to education and employment opportunities in the country such as the Free SHS policy should be revised to target the most vulnerable groups.
“These groups include poor people residing in rural locations and northern Ghana, especially persons from disadvantaged backgrounds, the unemployed and those in vulnerable employment,” Prof. Senadza said.
For his part, Prof. Hodey said people living in rural areas, including those into traditional farming practices and low-productivity informal sectors were vulnerable to various shocks such as climate issues and job losses.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened the situation.
Its negative effect on businesses, employment and incomes have led to heightened vulnerabilities of many non-poor households and poverty persistence for poor households,” he said.
Prof. Hodey also said that although the government had implemented some social programmes such as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), inequalities had increased over time and remained entrenched across the population.
“The categories of people who face the greatest challenge to escaping poverty are those in rural areas and those that have disadvantaged social backgrounds,” he added.