A new report by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) titled ‘Multi-dimensional Poverty-Ghana’, has established that 14 million of the country’s total population of 31 million are multi-dimensionally poor.
The report defined multi-dimensional poverty to mean many overlapping deprivations faced by an individual at the same time.
It mentioned such deprivations to include lack or limited access to quality health care, housing, education, nutrition, sanitation, water and money.
The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), assessed poverty in a more complex form than monetary deprivation.
Based on the Ghana Living Standards Survey of 2016/2017 and the 2011 and 2018 Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, the report established that inequality between rural and urban populations remained a challenge, with the incidence of multi-dimensional poverty in the rural areas being more than twice that of the urban areas.
It said sanitation remained a major issue in the country, followed by health insurance coverage with the aged being the most deprived in the access to sanitation facilities.
The report said the deprivation in sanitation was basically as a result of incidence of shared toilet facilities by multiple households.
Regarding health insurance, it said although many Ghanaians had registered with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the majority of them could not access it due to lack of funds to renew their annual subscriptions.
The report urged policymakers to give high priority to policies that could reduce the phenomenon in regions with a high incidence of multi-dimensional poverty.
The MPI will be useful in monitoring the social progress of individuals and households towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals in the country.
Ghana witnessed a significant decline in the incidence of poverty from 52.6 per cent in 1991 to 23.4 per cent in 2017, while extreme poverty dropped from 37.6 to 8.2 over the same period making it the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target of halving extreme poverty in 2006 way ahead of the global deadline of 2015.
However, the rate of poverty reduction between 2013 and 2017 was minimal with absolute numbers of poor people increasing by approximately 400,000.
Report on ‘Trends of Poverty and Inequality’ in Ghana has revealed that based on the 2017 population projections, 6.8 million persons were captured as poor and, therefore, could not afford to spend GH¢ 4.82 per day in 2016/17.
It further indicated that 2.4 million people were extremely poor to the extent that putting all their expenditure together, they could not afford to spend GH¢ 2.69 per day in 2016/17 on food (GH¢982.1) per year.
Poverty remains largely a rural phenomenon in Ghana, with the 2017/2018 seventh round of the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS 7) indicating that 39.5 per cent of rural dwellers were poor as compared to 7.8 per cent in urban areas.
Evidence shows that child poverty is exacerbated by the decline in household incomes and or the absence of adequate social safety nets.
With barely 10 years to deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals under which Target 1.2 enjoins all member countries, including Ghana, to reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions by 2030, poverty index in the country remains very high.
The maiden national report established that three out of every four children are deprived of at least three or more basic human rights and needs or several dimensions of well-being making them poor in many ways, a situation the report describes as “multi-dimensionally poor”.
The figure translates into 73.4 per cent of all children in the country. It said only 2.5 per cent of children were not deprived of any of the eight dimensions of poverty used under the survey while only 8.3 were deprived in only one dimension.
It said at the national level, 28.2 per cent of all children were monetarily poor, a phenomenon much common in the rural areas.