The government spent GH¢54.3 million to provide cooked and uncooked food for the vulnerable in Accra and Kumasi during the three-week lockdown period.
This was revealed by the Finance Minister during the mid-year budget review in Parliament on Thursday, July 23, 2020.
The President, Nana Akufo-Addo on March 27 announced a partial lockdown in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Ghana but lifted it after three weeks.
During this period, the government decided to provide food and water for the needy and vulnerable in the capital towns of these regions.
These included the homeless, head porters, popularly known as “kayayei”, and many others in deprived communities.
Updating Ghanaians on the cost incurred by the government to alleviate the plight of citizens within this COVID-19 period, Ken Ofori-Atta stated, “Government through the Gender Ministry and NADMO provided 1,827,581 and 917,142 cooked food packs to vulnerable persons within Accra and Kumasi respectively. In collaboration with Faith-Based Organizations, the government also distributed dry food packages to about 470,000 families.”
“Mr. Speaker, the support to households, in terms of supply of dry food packs and hot cooked meals cost government GH¢54.3 million to enable them to mitigate the impact of the pandemic,” he added.
The Finance Minister further showed expressed his appreciation to the religious organizations who supported the government in providing the food to these people.
He said, “Let me extend my deepest gratitude to the Faith-based organisations for this unique partnership with Government and may the Lord count this as righteousness for the FBOs and Government.”
The decision to feed the needy and vulnerable groups during the lockdown followed widespread concern over the treatment of some stranded head porters who tried sneaking home to Walewale in North East Region and were stopped at Ejisu and returned to Accra.
The government then committed to feeding and housing the needy and kayayei in the locked-down areas.
According to the President, there was the need for the provision of “food packages and hot meals” to poor households to enable them minimise their vulnerability even though the coronavirus had brought hardship to many Ghanaians.
The Gender Ministry announced free food hotlines to help the vulnerable in secluded places get in touch with the Ministry to ensure equitable distribution of the food.
Also, according to the Gender Ministry, local food vendors had been paid to provide free meals to vulnerable members of the societies in which they operated.
Speaking at a press briefing, the sector minister, Cynthia Morrison announced that the exercise was to be supported by caterers who will cook and share food to the specified people across cities affected by the lockdown.