Ghana's development partners are to provide a total of $1 billion to fill the government's financing gap for this year. Announcing this at the end of a three-day Consultative Group (CG) meeting in Accra in mid-April, the World Bank representative in Ghana, Peter Harrold, said the funds, which includes a $250m debt relief, would be channelled to six key sectors of the economy.
These are: roads, education, health, agriculture, good governance and private sector development. The strengthening of these sectors was the main thrust of the government's 2001 budget (see p29)
This year's CG meeting, unlike previous ones, centred on the home-grown Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS). Peter Harrold told journalists: "This year we had all agreed that we would centre the CG meeting around the GPRS document. So we waited until that was ready, and that came out in February, so we finalised the dares for this meeting."
What is special about the GPRS is that for the first time in Ghana, the government has collated information on who the poor are, where they are and what they do.
Poverty remains a systemic problem in the country, especially in the north where it is closely linked to low access to basic infrastructure, health services and education. With a per capita GDP of $300 in 2001, Ghana's income level remains below the average for sub-Saharan Africa.
"When the policy makers sit down and focus on this problem, then they realise how startling the information is - that almost 90% of the people in the Upper East Region are poor," said Harrold. "When you start looking at numbers as starting as that you get a shock."
Therefore, the government, with assistance from its development partners, is going to address the problem by having more growth in the economy and ensuring that some of the growth extends to places like the Upper East Region.
This, according to Harrold, can be achieved by focusing on a few important sectors like agriculture, making sure that the sector is growing and that public services in education, health, roads, and rural water supplies are beginning to be delivered to those villages and communities that are most deprived.
The development partners -- the World Bank, IMF, the EU and other international financial institutions -- are full of praise for the GPRS.
"We very much like the analytical work that has gone into the GPRS and the fact that it is owned by Ghana," Harrold said. "The foreigners here have been very, very careful to stay...