Certainly it has not been all peaceful after independence in March 6, 1957 as the nation has had its fair share of political instability; a result of coup d’états. However under our 4th republican dispensation which has lasted for over 20 years now, our nation has seen the desired peace, religious and ethnic tolerance, as well as political stability with power changing hands twice already.
Despite the aforementioned feat, there’s no denying the fact that even after independence, many Ghanaian still live in abject poverty.
The ugly trend of poverty is forcing some families in Ghana to cut the amount and quality of food they eat each day. Meat, a source of protein, is no more an option in the menu of many families.
People now opt for less nutritional meals – just to put something in the stomach— which has a bad effect on a child’s growth. It is therefore not surprising that about 22 per cent of children in Ghana below five years are suffering from stunted growth while one out of every nine Ghanaian children die of malnutrition before the age of five.
To address this problem, Business Day suggests that the government embarks on a robust and sustained, pro poor growth that aims at sustaining basic services to the poor, like provision of good drinking water, electricity and primary health care in the short term.
There should also be programmes to encourage poor children to go to school and stay in school. In the medium term, government could come out with targeted interventions like offering micro credit financing to help people set up their own businesses, and increased rural credit facilities for cash starved farmers to expand their farms with improved farming techniques and fertilizers.
Extending irrigation facilities to all agricultural lands will boost rural employment. In the long term, attention should be on programmes to build human capital. With increased spending on anti-poverty measures like bolstering the education system, infrastructure, housing, nutrition, and health care especially in rural Ghana, it is possible to launch a direct assault on poverty and unemployment. The emphasis on health, education and fighting poverty will mean increased economic opportunities and spending power eventually.
Previous efforts at poverty reduction meant money down the drain because of corruption and mismanagement. The government should therefore have an effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism in place to check abuse. You need an efficient bureaucracy to handle this. The Ghanaian bureaucracy is corrupt but a good leadership can extract results from an inefficient bureaucracy. A horse is as good as the rider.
Ghana is poor despite all the natural resources because we are unable to give our children good basic education, we are not able to impart relevant skills that matter most in the 21st century to our young men and young women, and as a result we are unable to get productive work out of them. In addressing extreme poverty, the government should think of reforming the educational system to place more emphasis on the acquisition of relevant technical skills and also improving basic education. The attention now is on the poor but the middle class should not be ignored. The overall objective is to enable as many as possible to join that class.
Currently the middle class in Ghana is suffocating under a huge burden of taxes. They are in fact overburdened with taxes. So the government should consider cutting and streamlining taxes to spur growth and should launch bold moves to open up the economy and make it an attractive destination for foreign direct investment. The sharpest reduction in poverty will come about not when the government spends most but when the economy grows the most.