Poverty in a Time of Lockdown

Today, Ghana is being haunted, not by a spirit, but by the massive material poverty in our midst. We have all heard the warnings from Italy: lockdown now or else…

I am sure the government has heard it too. The problem is, how do you lock down when so many people may face a situation worse than the disease itself. The middle-class people are desperate for a lockdown, and on the evidence, it is the right thing to do. But if you were the government, the following stats, among others, would cause you to pause..

Note: according to the compiler, the data comes from the Ghana Living Standards Survey Report:

• According to AMA (Accra Metropolitan Assembly), 91% of homes in Accra the Capital City of Ghana are without places of convenience.

• Over 114,521 residences in Accra are without places of convenience.

• 315 houses use the outlawed pan latrines and 79 houses use pit latrines.

• 35.7% of households across the country use public toilet. 19% of households across the country resort to open defecation.

• 81% of Ghanaians lack access to improved sanitation or are entirely without toilet facilities.

• 12.5% of households use a public tap.

• 73.9% of households in rural areas use either a well or natural sources.

• 6.8 million Ghanaians totaling almost 25% of our entire population live on less than 1 Dollar a day!

• 40% of those within the ‘national poverty’ bracket are in the 5 Northern Regions.

Apart from the statistics, we all can see with our naked eyes the huge number of people selling by the roadside and at intersections in our towns and cities, we can see people hustling just for their one meal a day. We see people crowded into slum housing for whom social spacing impossible. The spectre haunting our country is the result of inequality and social exclusion of the poor from the national cake.

The short of it is that we have many compatriots who would suffer hardships when or if there is a lockdown. This is not the fault of this or any specific government in the past. It is the aggregate of policies that have simply paid lip service to poverty alleviation or ignored the poor altogether. Sure, programmes like the national health insurance, free SHS, LEAP, etc are meant to help the poor but the problem of poverty needs to be addressed and privileged more aggressively.

In any case, we realise today that we are all in the same boat and that when we ignored the problems confronting poor people, poverty will strike back at all of us.

Source: Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng

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