It is essentially a pro-poor project designed to help address extreme poverty in the rural areas, especially the remotest parts with a focus on creating jobs for the dwellers to earn some income to help improve their living standards.
This, in a nutshell, is the story of the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project (GPSNP) and the niche it has carved for itself. Launched in June 2019 and scheduled to have come to an end by December 2022, it has been extended to 2025 for a second phase due to its massive impact on the lives of the beneficiary rural communities.
In fact, it has emerged as a vital conveyor belt in the government’s arsenal of life-transforming projects and programmes geared towards alleviating rural poverty and ensuring that rural dwellers live acceptable dignified lives.
Funded by the World Bank and the British DFID and jointly implemented by the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralization and Rural Development (MLGDRD) and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), the project is fine-tuning its target of boosting productivity and incomes of the poor and influencing alleviation of extreme poverty in the 80 previous beneficiary districts and 20 new ones under the second phase.
The two sponsors; World Bank and DFID, have made available initial sums of 60 million dollars and 20.5million dollars respectively for the Project’s five components.
They are Productive Inclusion (PI) and Labour-Intensive Public Works(LIPW) which are being implemented by MLGDRD. The other three components namely, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), Social Protection systems strengthening and Project Management, Co-ordination and Capacity Building fall under the management of MoGCSP.
As already indicated, the first phase covered 80 selected districts country-wide with 21,108 residents of 331 beneficiary communities receiving enterprise skills training.
The MLGDRD, with the support of the collaborating institutions, has provided start-up grants of cedi equivalent of 215 dollars per person for 21,107 beneficiaries to set up and run their own small-scale micro enterprises.
Furthermore, 15,926 beneficiaries have been linked to the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme culminating in the establishment of 209 plantations covering 2,022 hectares of various tree crops.
The list of achievements appears endless but certainly the construction of 79 small earth dams and 64 feeder roads totaling 251.6 kilometres, disbursement of Ghc91.8 million directly as grants to beneficiaries, the provision of short term employment for 34,551 beneficiaries through the provision of unskilled labour at LIPW sub-project sites and the training of167 contractors and District Supervisors in the use of labour-Intensive methods for construction can also not escape the radar.
With the coast now clear for the continuation of the project following the securing of a 100million dollar funding support from the World Bank for the second phase, it is expected that 100 Municipal and District Assemblies with a target of 30,000 beneficiaries will be captured to set up their own enterprises and 240 kilometers of feeder roads constructed.
About 80 small earth dams are also to be constructed and stocked with fingerlings in selected deprived communities to support agricultural production in addition to the establishment of 1,900 hectares of plantations.
On a recent inspection tour of GPSNP projects in the Upper East and North East Regions, Mr. Augustine Collins Ntim, Deputy Minister of Local Government, Decentralization and Rural Development,marvelled at the successes chalked so far, described the achievements as “massive and heart-warming”.
“It’s absolutely necessary that this project is pursued to help drive the agenda of alleviating rural poverty and improving the lot of rural dwellers”, remarked Mr.Ntim who is also the Member of Parliament for Offinso North in Ashanti.
The Deputy Minister was full of praise for his boss, Mr. Dan Kwaku Botwe for his unique role in securing the second phase of the project and was emphatic that the government would vigorously promote its agenda of championing the welfare and advancement of the rural population.
Dr. George Kwadwo Osei Ababio, National Co-ordinator of GPSNP, who together with other officials, accompanied the Deputy Minister bared it all with a simple statement – “So far, it has been excellent. Processes have been put in place to deliver on the Project’s objectives. I also believe stakeholders satisfaction is highly rated”.
BY FRANK OTCHERE