Northern region still very poor despite various interventions – Survey

The three northern regions are still vulnerable in terms of improved living standards despite progress in poverty reduction interventions being undertaken in the area, a new research finding has revealed.
The survey, which focused on households’ economic well-being, involving expenditure and poverty, however, showed that expenditures have increased while poverty prevalence has declined from the baseline.
It revealed that the prevalence of poverty levels in the region at the time of survey was, 67 per cent.
“The continuous investment in education is therefore very important in helping reduce poverty risk in the North”, Dr Vincent Amanor-Boadu, a Senior Lecturer at the Kansas State University, USA, who presented the findings of the survey explained.
The survey dubbed: “Population-based Survey on Poverty and Nutrition in Northern Ghana” was carried out in 2015 within the SADA region of Ghana, excluding the SADA area within the Volta Region.
The results of the survey, announced recently at a Conference organised by USAID in Accra, follows a first survey on poverty and nutrition levels, undertaken in the North, in 2012 by USAID-Monitoring, Evaluation and Technical Support Services (METTS) in collaboration with Ghana Statistical Services, University of Cape Coast and Kansas State University.
It forms part of the Feed the Future programme, a US Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, an approach to achieving its commitments in the reduction of poverty and enhancing nutritional status in developing countries, such as Ghana.
The survey further revealed that the gap between the top and the bottom quintiles had increased and, therefore, policymakers could help in poverty alleviation by facilitating the enabling environment while individuals do their part by enhancing their education and investing in the education of children in the region.
Dr Amanor-Boadu explained that while Ghana has been successful in meeting its poverty-reduction Millennium Development Goals, the northern regions were experiencing much higher poverty levels and that had triggered a focus by most development agencies, including USAID, in the region.
The survey, therefore, tracked intervention in investments’ performance using a number of indicators.
According to the survey, income, production and leadership were areas that needed the most intervention to help influence households’ nutrition and food security outcomes.
It revealed that women with a higher degree of disempowerment have a significantly lower health status, and for women categorized as obese, the production and leadership domains were found to be the areas of priority for directing policy interventions to enhance empowerment of women and ultimately influence their health.
Mr Andy Karas, Representative of the USAID Mission, described the data as evidence based data that would help drive decision on households, food security, nutrition and well-being of the people in the north.
“It gives instructive information on how and which areas of development need to be targeted while informing public policy with opportunities to the private sector, especially in the SADA Zone”.
Mr Brian Conklin, Deputy Director of Economic Growth Office, USAID, said there was some good news about the findings of the survey which revealed that there has been 19 per cent drop in poverty in the region.
However, he said, there was the need to work to improve level of education and health status as the bedrock of improved living conditions of the people.
Mr Conklin also emphasized on the need to forge partnerships, especially with the private sector, to bring about transformation in the region.
Nana Osei Bonsu, Chief Executive Officer of Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), said in order to address low agriculture production, the private sector needed to be supported with technical skills, and farm management practices to help manage post-harvest loses.

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