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7.3m Ghanaians face poverty: Have no access to education, health, unemployment – GSS Report

Unemployment

Nearly one out of every four Ghanaians have no or limited access to health care, education, employment and also live in poor conditions, a report released by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has revealed. This means 24.3 per cent of Ghanaians (over 7.31 million people) experience multidimensional poverty, facing deprivations in health care, education, employment, and living conditions.

Unemployment contributes the most to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) at 32.6 per cent, followed by poor living conditions (27.9%), poor access to health care (21.7%), and the lack of education (17.8%). Nearly half (43.8%) of those in multidimensional poverty experience severe poverty. Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) means an individual faces many overlapping deprivations simultaneously.

The report highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to address poverty, including improving access to quality education, health care, and employment opportunities, particularly in rural and underserved regions.

Workshop

The Director of Social Statistics at GSS, Omar Seidu, at a dissemination workshop in Accra last Wednesday, emphasised the importance of using the findings to inform policy decisions and address poverty simultaneously across various dimensions. He explained MPI to be a non-monetary measure of poverty that reflected the various areas in which the population may be deprived. The index was generated using 13 weighted need indicators classified under four dimensions – “living conditions, education, health and employment”.

It revealed that unemployment recorded the highest contribution to MPI with 32.6 per cent. Furthermore, 27.9 per cent of the people experienced poor living conditions which cut across the lack of access to potable water, electricity, improved toilets and assets, living in old dilapidated homes, overcrowding in rooms as well as non-usage of liquefied petroleum gas as its indicators.

Those with poor access to health care accounted for 21.7 per cent of the multidimensionally poor, Mr Seidu said. That cluster, he explained, included those experiencing death of a child five years or below or a pregnant mother in a household, as well as the inaccessibility of national health insurance by any member of the household censused. Meanwhile, education, which is denoted as “lack of education for children of school age (four to 15 years), lack of at least nine years education for a member of a household older than 15 years, and lagging behind in education at least two more years compared to the expected age,” contributed to 17.8 per cent of people deprived in many ways, the report points out.

Context

Mr Seidu said the import of the report was to provide standard multidimensional indices for the country to measure the different poverty experiences and inform government and ministries, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) policy decisions to address poverty.

“These findings provide evidence for formulating comprehensive policy responses that address various dimensions of poverty simultaneously”. “This includes improving access to quality education, health care and employment opportunities, particularly in rural and underserved regions,” he said.

“Additionally, targeted interventions to support vulnerable groups are essential for reducing poverty and promoting equitable development,” Mr Seidu added. He stressed that the report was vital in aiding policymakers and stakeholders to develop and implement policies aimed at reducing poverty and promoting equitable growth, which was essential for advancing Ghana’s development agenda and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.

Rural, urban disparity

The findings also revealed vast variations in the MPI among the rural and urban areas in the 261 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) and the 16 administrative regions. The report found that while 36.7 per cent (more than a third) of persons living in rural areas are multidimensionally poor, 14.6 per cent of persons in the urban areas are multidimensionally poor.

However, it added, the severity of the poor on many indicators was about same in rural areas, with 44 per cent in the rural areas and 43.4 per cent in urban areas. Mr Seidu said nine regions had their proportions exceeding the national average of multi-dimensionally poor, with the Savannah Region recording the highest with 49.5 per cent, which was more than twice the national average of 24.3 per cent.

The Greater Accra Region recorded the least multidimensional poverty with 11.7 per cent, with eight others exceeding the national average. They include North East with 48.1 per cent; Upper East with 43 per cent; Oti with 40.8 per cent; Northern with 38.4 per cent; Upper West with 37.4 per cent, and Volta with 27.3 per cent.

The rest are Western North – 27.0 per cent; Western – 25.7 per cent, Ahafo – 24.7 per cent; Bono East – 24.2 per cent; Central – 22.5 per cent; Eastern – 21.7 per cent” Ashanti – 18.3, and Bono with 17.1.

Meanwhile in nominal terms (at constant prices), the Ashanti Region had the highest household population living in multidimensional poverty with 959,031 people and the least being Ahafo Region with 135,644 people.

Across all 261 MMDAs, however, Asokwa Municipality in the Ashanti Region recorded the least proportion of household population living in multidimensional poverty with 6.3 per cent (7,798 out of 123,680).

The Nabdam District in the Upper East Region recorded the highest proportion of household population living in multidimensional poverty with 68.6 per cent (35,768 out of 52,138).

Commendation

A Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development (MLGRD), Martin Adjei-Mensah Korsah, in a speech delivered on his behalf by a Deputy Minister, Vincent Ekow Assafuah, commended GSS for producing the MPI report for all 261 MMDAs. He added that it demonstrated its dedication to providing comprehensive data for effective evidence-based planning and implementation. Mr Korsah said the report would serve as a tool for targeting beneficiaries for various programmes and projects to ensure good governance and balanced development of rural and urban areas, with the strategic baseline data it provided.

The data also helped to monitor progress of local level development and the trajectory to eliminating all forms of poverty across the country, the minister added. “Metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) and officers should take interest in studying the report to guide their developmental approaches at the local level,” Mr Korsah said.

He said doing so was crucial to achieving their mandate as highlighted in Section 12 of the Local Government Act, 2016 (Act 936).  He also pledged the government’s commitment to ensure that all MMDAs utilised the report to the fullest to guide their development processes.

By: Pacome Emmanuel Damalie

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