The United Nation’s Special Rapporteur to Ghana, Philip Alston in a report has described the situation of poverty as a disturbing one that needs to be addressed immediately to keep up with the pace of population growth.
The Special Rapporteur said Ghana is currently experiencing rapid urbanization, not only in Accra, but its growing urban population is becoming very poor and cities are increasingly becoming segregated as the inequality gap grows larger.
The report indicated that 70 percent of the residents in the Northern Region, which covers almost one-third of the country, live in poverty.
This represented 47 percent of men without school education and only 27 percent of women who are literate, with almost a quarter of students not completing primary school education.
The findings were made when Philip Alston embarked on a 10-day fact-finding mission to Greater Accra, Northern and Upper East regions.
‘’In Ghana, children are about 40 percent more likely to live in poverty than adults, which is a major increase since the 1990’s, when children were only 15 percent more likely to live in poverty,’’ the report said.
The report also revealed that 111 of 1,000 children die before the age of five due to the growing population’s lack of quality health care, inequality and social protection, 85 percent of which become anemic, with one-third being stunted and one-fifth are underweight.
It said estimates of income poverty in Ghana has shown a reduction from 51 percent and 56.5 percent in 1991-2 to 24 percent in 2012-13.
However, a person is deemed to be ‘poor’ in Ghana if their income is less than GHS1,314 per adult, per year. While the ‘extreme poor’ lives on less than GHS792 (US$1.10 per day).
Alston’s report indicated that Ghana’s poverty was increasingly rural, with 38 percent of people in rural areas being poor, compared to 10.4 percent in urban areas.
According to the report, the quality of life in informal settlements is appalling.
‘’The last community led enumeration, done in Old Fadama was carried out back in 2009 when some 79,000 people lived there. However Old Fadama, which now has about 100,000 and despite its overcrowding, is welcoming people every day.’’ it noted.
Due to the growing population, Ghana has a housing deficit of about 1.7 million units, which is projected to reach 2.4 million in 2018 and 3.8 million by 2020.
Already, many people end up living in the streets and public places while they perform informal and menial tasks to survive.
The report noted that the lack of updated data on the number of people living on the streets and the unemployment rate of integral migrants is also worrying.
‘’Accurate figures are necessary to enable government to develop a strategic responsive to curb the menace,’’ the report stated.
By Mawuli Y. Ahorlumegah