Money To The Poor Is Necessary
Money To The Poor Is Necessary Website
I read Mr K. B. Asante's article on the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme (LEAP) on Monday, Fehruary 11, 2008 with absolute attention yet I was not convinced about LEAP's impotency to address poverty. According to the Oxford dictionary, anyone without enough money to live comfortably is poor. Poverty as a state is not only caused by unemployment and I believe it is about time we made ourselves familiar with the many factors that render an individual poor otherwise we might be tempted to think that the magic vaccine for eradicating poverty is job creation and or human resource empowerment. An individual born with Down Syndrome (a congenital chromosomal disorder) has varying degrees of learning disability and to a larger extent must be supported financially at least with respect to food and clothing irrespective of age and physical strength. A 30-year-old carpenter who is diagnosed with HIV and develops full blown AIDS at say age 40 automatically becomes a liability to the state. A condition which makes it imperative for society, and for that matter the state, to at least support him with decent capital beyond antiretroviral drugs, since any drug consumed remains meaningless unless one meets basic nutritional needs. You can be HIV positive and do your carpentry but when you reach full blown AIDS, your physical condition would not render you employ¬able, since your strength is compromised and your capacity limited. The widow of the carpenter and the carpenter's children must survive and with the breadwinner dead, it would be economically unjustifable, and politically incorrect to suggest that the children resort to child labour. The widow may sell ice water in the streets but the profits may not be enough to buy herself food and decent clothing, let alone cater for her children. In fact, many of the children on the streets hawking as well as those in cocoa farming and fishing do so not to raise money for themselves but rather for grandparents who they stay with so as to keep body and soul inseparable. No amount of skills and job opportunities will make life more meaningful for the 70-year-old diabetic groundnut seller in the Savelugu-Nanton District who has neither the strength nor capacity to look for a job or train on a job. Such is life, many people either debilitated by disease or robbed of basic reasoning and skill acquisition by congenital developmental disorders live in our society today and it will take only those who really care to know of their existence to appreciate their location on the map of Ghana. Since 1957 when Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah took charge of the administration of this country, many projects have been undertaken to give jobs to people and empower them. So did the PNDC/NDC do much to help create jobs in diverse forms. All these interventions notwithstanding, the very poor and vulnerable still live with us and will continue to do so, so long as the definition of poverty as an entity remains etched in the lexicons that explain English as a language. Job creation is one facet of the multidimensional approach to addressing poverty and as long as this current government continues with the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), I personally find it difficult to pitch camp with any individual who creates the impression that the only measure taken by this government to address poverty is LEAP. Hundreds of people now work with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) service outlets, thousands have received skills through micro projects in fish farming whereas hundreds of thousands are today found in the hospitals as medical assistants and on the streets as community security personnel. As long as at least a thousand people are bound to get jobs associated with the maintenance and sustenance of the two new stadia with more than a thousand families about to be transformed, I remain appreciative of initiatives taken by the government to create jobs and not in any way quick to ridicule the LEAP project, since there are many highways that led from the cold and lonely island of poverty to the land of sufficiency apart from the highway of job creation. From what has been explained by the government about LEAP, only those who have been debilitated by disease' or incapacitated beyond work by virtue of their age or normal functioning will be beneficiaries of LEAP. To suggest therefore that the government should create jobs is a distorted way of looking at the LEAP project, since even if the umpteenth job is created, these physically, psychologically or socially incapacitated ones can't be beneficiaries. The money is not to be handed to able-bodied men who remain unemployed but rather to members of society who are liabilities and ought to be taken care of by society at large and the government in particular. The student who rides on the public bus for free at a cost of 50 pesewas a day has indirectly received 15 Ghana cedis in a month from the government. Why aren't we asking the government to stop engaging in such intervention so that parents will pay for that 15 Ghana cedis to be used in building factories? What about the public university student who pays about 400 Ghana cedis for his university education when the cost of education is about GH¢3,000? Why have we allowed the government to give cash of a magnitude of more than GH¢2,000 to thousands of Ghanaian students when their contemporaries in private universities like Ashesi and Valley View University squeeze thousands of Ghana cedis from their parents' pockets to foot the cost of their university education? Will it be ingenious to say that the government should save those interventions and use the accrued amount to build industries? Or is it that we don't appreciate that capital is going to individuals because the interventions are not sent into students' accounts in the form of cash but paid directly to the university authorities? Money paid by the government on behalf of students in both basic and tertiary level is one form of empowering people through knowledge acquisition so as to fight poverty, so is free transportation to some Ghanaian students, if not even all, also a facet of the multi ramifying solution for poverty eradication. Free compulsory vaccination of all babies born in this country at the cost of government is a way of combating life threatening diseases which are also a factor for the state of poverty. The cost of the vaccination could have been made to be borne by parents so that the government could save the money and maybe build factories but like LEAP, national vaccination exercise which involves billions of Ghana cedis must be sustained so as to fight poverty from all the inclinations that it invades society from and not be trapped into an illusion that perceives poverty as an entity nurtured and sustained only by unavailability of jobs or skilled manpower. LEAP is obviously not the magic wand for curing society of poverty but a necessary and significant branch of the multi ramifying solution for poverty amelioration and eradication.