The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme has been expanded to cover an additional 1,600 households, bringing the total number of beneficiary households to 3,200.
The expanded programme will still cover the initial 21 districts under the pilot programme which began in March this year. However, more extremely poor households in these districts are expected to benefit from a minimum grant of GH¢8 and a maximum of GH¢15 each month under the second phase of the programme, which will start early next month.
Fifty districts have been targeted under the programme for this year.
At a media briefing on Tuesday, which was addressed by Mrs Angela Asante Asare and Mr Lawrence Ofori-Addo, the co-ordinators of the National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS) and the LEAP programme, respectively, they said the payment of the grants would begin on June 3, 2008.
They explained that preparations, which involved meeting with their partners at the district and local levels, such as officials of post offices in the various localities, some community leaders and district assembly members who helped in identifying the target households, would be carried out a day before payment is effected.
According to Mr Ofori-Addo, initial feedback from disbursements done in March had shown changes in the lives of some extremely poor households, some of whom had been able to engage in some form of subsistent business venture.
During the initial programme, a flat rate of GH¢8 was paid to all targeted households in March and April.
That was to test the systems and structures put in place for the programme.
In the second phase, with the success of the pilot programme, each targeted extremely poor household will get an initial sum of GH¢8.
After a household has been targeted for the payment of the initial grant, each additional person in the household identified as aged, orphaned, vulnerable or a person with a severe disability attracts an additional GH¢2.
That is, one eligible beneficiary in the household gets GH¢8, two eligible beneficiaries in a household get GH¢10, three get GH¢12, while four get GH¢15.
Fifteen Ghana cedis (GH¢15) is the maximum and a household with more than four beneficiaries will still get the maximum.
Mrs Asare explained the rationale behind that, saying that the LEAP programme was “to give households a push and not create a dependency situation, while preventing abuse of the system”.
The two co-ordinators said beneficiaries were expected to be on the programme for a minimum of six months and a maximum of three years, after which they would be weaned off it and linked up to other livelihood enhancing programmes.
Mr Ofori-Addo stressed that the programme was for the extremely poor who had not been able to benefit from development initiatives so far, while Mrs Asare said LEAP was a means to an end, a supportive mechanism for extremely poor households to link up with complementary services.
They disclosed that a technical work group on social protection had been set up in districts, targeted at the extremely poor and also as a social protection mechanism for them.
The technical team identified the extremely poor and other social indicators, such as employment and child protection and how these impacted on their lives.
On the current hikes in food and fuel prices, Ms Asare said the NSPS policy document stipulated that the programme would respond to any emergencies.
She said some donors were ready to help the programme to meet that challenge, while the government had already completed a programme to rope in areas affected by floods last year and districts that were prone to food shortages and crises.
DAILY GRAPHIC, THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2008, PG 24