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Intensify Efforts To Address Extreme Poverty - Prof Akosa

May 11, 2016, 11:17 a.m.

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, a former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, has called for an intensification of efforts to address extreme poverty, promote socio-economic development and safeguard the interest of future generations.

He said: “Inequalities reproduce over generations and cumulate and combine to recreate systematic disadvantages for certain groups and individuals - rural dwellers, urban dwellers, people in certain occupations, groups such as women and children, persons with disability, and the old and infirm.”

Prof. Akosa, speaking at the National Forum on Inclusive Development in Accra, said the devastating and long-lasting effects of malnutrition needed to be factored into the country’s development efforts.

The forum was organised by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), in collaboration with UNICEF, the World Bank, UNDP and ActionAid on the theme: “Promoting Long-term National Development through Growth and Opportunity for the Poorest”.

Prof. Akosa said the findings from a recent study on the cost of hunger, soon to be released, underscored the importance of nutrition in human development and socio-economic transformation of a country.

“It demonstrates that for children, especially those from poor households, undernourishment has adverse implications for school performance, and for workers it reduces productivity and ultimately earnings and household welfare.

“The combined effect of these consequences is a cycle of poverty that undermines national and continental development efforts. It is also at a great loss to the country when the full potentials of some of its citizens cannot be realised due to marginalisation,” he said.

Dr Yao Graham, the Coordinator of the Third World Network, said job creation through industrialisation was key to setting a development plan that moved Ghana away from the unfolding perverse structural transformation.

“It is also an important component of a transformation process that is equitable and inclusive. The most glaring failure of the growth model has been its inability to deliver decent and secure jobs.

“Eighty-eight percent of working people who are involved in the informal economy are largely in the low income and low productivity jobs ranging from illegal gold mining to selling on the streets,” he said.

Susan Ngongi, the UNICEF Representative, who spoke on behalf of other partners, said clearly, Ghana had something to celebrate in recent years adding that the millions of people who had been gradually lifted out of poverty were glad that progress had been made.

“But this is only one side of the story. The other side of the story is that while growth has been largely responsible for the people’s move out of poverty, this has mainly been through trickle-down effects,” she said.

She said Ghana could do much more in terms of conscious policy efforts to generate growth among the poor.

 Ghana's economic growth trajectory over the past two decades has been remarkable compared to sub-Saharan African and global averages. The country has also succeeded in halving the incidence of extreme poverty.

However, the Sixth Round of the Ghana’s Living Standards Survey (GLSS 6), published in 2014 by the Ghana Statistical Service, showed a continuing concentration of poverty with growing income inequalities and a significant proportion of the population living in hardship.

The forum forms part of a series of national events that NDPC is organising to enable Ghanaians to provide their input to the proposed long-term national development plan which aims at the socio-economic transformation of the country over the next 40 years.

It would provide an opportunity to share ideas on how the poorest might be empowered to participate in and benefit equally from economic growth and social development.

The key output expected of the event is a set of policy actions to promote inclusive development.