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Almost half of Ghanaians are poor – new report

Poverty Eradication In Ghana, Challenges And The Way Forward


Adnan Adams Mohammed


A new survey report from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) indicates that, about 45.6 percent of Ghana’s population (that is; almost one out every two Ghanaians) are currently in a state of multidimensional poverty.


The report disclosed that, the intensity of poverty, which reflects the share of deprivations each poor person experiences on average, is 51.7 percent. This means, the poor are disadvantaged in six or more of the following twelve indicators: electricity, water, housing, assets, overcrowding, cooking fuel, sanitation, school attendance, school attainment, school lag, nutrition, and health insurance.


Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report, measures the rate at which ‘a person is deprived in at least one third of the weighted indicators as captured above. The indicators that contribute most to multidimensional poverty in Ghana are lack of health insurance coverage, undernutrition, school lag and households with members without any educational qualification. The MPI requires an individual to be deprived in multiple indicators at the same time. The current MPI, which is the product of the incidence and intensity of poverty, is 0.236.

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“The incidence of multidimensional poverty in Ghana reduced by nine percentage points from 55 percent in 2011 to 46 percent in 2017. The intensity of poverty also reduced from 54.2 percent in 2011 to 51.7 percent in 2017, showing that the improvement is ‘pro-poor’”, Government Statistician, Prof. Kobina Annim stated in a trend analyses, indicating that, there has been substantial progress in multidimensional poverty reduction.


Also, based on the results, Prof. Kobina Annim said, it is paramount that resources are allocated to the Health Sector in terms of health insurance coverage and nutrition, and efforts coordinated to increase school attainment among the populace and reduce the number of school-age children that are not in school and their counterparts who are two or more years behind in school.”


“Complementary policies should also be adopted to reduce the co-occurrence of multidimensional and consumption expenditure poverty in the country. Going forward, the Ghana 2020 Population and Housing Census will engender MPI analyses at the district/municipal and locality levels to inform specific and efficient allocation of resources,” Prof. Annim recommended.


A further break-down of the report shows 86.8 percent of poor Ghanaians, irrespective of their poverty status, are deprived of sanitation; i.e., households which have no toilet facilities, use buckets or pans, public toilets, or share toilets outside the house. The next thing that poor Ghanaians are deprived of is health insurance, as the data says 64.6 percent of them are not covered by health insurance; rather surprisingly, as politicians always boast about the National Health Insurance Scheme covering a large number of the population.


Housing is next on the list, as the study shows 36.6 percent of the poor population use inadequate flooring or walls made with one or multiple of the following materials: earth, mud, palm-leaves, thatch made with grass or raffia.


Furthermore, the data shows 35.4 of poor households have, on average, more than three people per sleeping room. And again, 22.4 percent of the poor population drinks water from an unclean source – i.e., from tanker supply or vendor-provided; unprotected well; unprotected spring; river or stream; dugout, pond, lake, dam, canal or some other source; or a round-trip distance to collect water which takes 30 minutes or more.


The percentage of the population that is vulnerable to multidimensional poverty is 31 percent – and 21.4 percent of the population are considered to be in severe poverty. On geographical considerations, the report shows the levels of deprivation for all the indicators are higher in the savannah compared to the remaining two ecological zones.


Another important revelation in the report is the age groupings of multidimensionally poor people. The data surprisingly reveals multidimensional poverty is prevalent among children under 15 years – contrary to the previous belief that the risk of poverty is prevalent among the elderly. The results suggest that households without a child are likely to be less poor.


In prescribing solutions based on the data collected, the report advised policymakers to prioritise the use of resources in order to reduce the high deprivations in the indicators of wellbeing.


“Against the backdrop that the percentage of multidimensional poor individuals deprived in each of these indicators varies across ecological zones and administrative regions, it is important to prioritise and sequence policy actions as functions of the percentage of individuals and households facing each deprivation.


“Regarding child indicators, it is pertinent to mention that the government should continue working with the existing institutions on reducing deprivations in school attendance, school lag and child undernutrition.”

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