‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ must address rising inequality

Philip Smith, Director for DFID Ghana

…poverty level rise, despite recorded economic growth

Government’s “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda must address the issue of why, despite record economic growth, inequality in Ghana is rising, the Country Director for Department for International Development, DFID Ghana, Philip Smith has said.

Speaking at the launch of the Poverty Profile in Ghana, 2015-2017, Smith noted that the “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda has so far focused only on investment, infrastructure and trade and there is a risk that government and her development partners might shift their focus from the immediate task of improving the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable in Ghana.

Smith opined that, the government’s agenda can’t just be about Ghana’s “self-reliance” through industrialization.

“It has to be addressing the “self-reliance” of the poorest and most marginalized Ghanaians including out-of-school children, vulnerable women and people with disabilities,” he stated.

The new report indicates that the number of poor Ghanaians in 2006 and 2013, stood at 7 million and 6.4 million respectively, however 2017 witnessed an increase on the 2013 figure to 6.8 million.

The situation has remained the same with regards to the extreme poor, where 2006, 2013 and 2017, witnessed 3.6 million, 2.2 million and 2.4 million respectively.

Poverty in rural northern Ghana remains stubbornly high, Smith said.

“Over the last two decades, the United Kingdom, UK, has invested over GB£2 billion of development aid in Ghana, working hand in hand with the government and other development partners, and contributing to Ghana’s impressive development gains but we haven’t made a dent in the high poverty rates in the North.”

Continuing, he said rising inequality presents a huge challenge for both government and her development partners. We must maintain concerted efforts to address these inequalities in order for Ghana to leave no stone unturned in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.

The launch of the baseline data for the SDGs, according to the data from 2013 shows that the percentage of the population living below the poverty line in rural areas was six times higher than in urban areas.

In the Poverty Profile Report, it appears that the gap between regions and between rural and urban areas remains wide, and in some cases is worsening.

Despite decades of investment by development partners in the North, the new report shows that it has been less than transformational. Historically, Ghana’s success in reducing poverty has largely been the story of the South.

By Joshua W. Amlanu