The decision by some alleged witches in the Gushegu District in the Northern Region to demand their right has paid off as they would begin to receive their allowances under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programme (LEAP) by the end of this month. The alleged witches were registered for the LEAP programme two years ago but have not been paid any allowance since.
A protest march by the 163 to the Gushegu District Assembly last Monday was to demand their share of the LEAP allowance “‘We registered these alleged witches about two years ago but they are yet to receive their allowances and when they came here to demand the payment of their allowances I called Accra and I was told their registration forms are being processed and they would start paying them their allowances by the end of this month (June), the Gushegu District Social Welfare Officer, Mr Tia S. Dokurugu told The Mirror in an interview. The alleged witches, who have been ostracised from their communities, are being camped at the three witches’ camps in the Gushegu districts namely the Leli-tabari, Kpatinga and Nabuli witches camps. Their action at the District Assembly last Monday, earned them their right and those in charge had no alternative than to act to meet their demand. The spokesperson for the women, Alimatu Sadia said life had become difficult for them since they were chased out of their communities based on the accusation of witchcraft and the only way they could get the government to listen to them was to march to the district assembly to demand their share as beneficiaries of the LEAP programme. The action Mr Dokurugu told The Mirror that the action of the 168 alleged witches was necessitated by the payment of allowances to 31 inmates of the Leli-tabari witches camp through the Bidizaa Rural Bank. He said the 31 inmates of the Leli-tabari witches’ camp, were registered in 2009 and they had been receiving their allowances but the 168 persons who marched to the assembly to demand theirs were registered two years ago and their forms were being processed in Accrato enable them to benefit.“They accused me of spending their money but I told them that I have sent their registration forms to Accra for them to be processed and I have been assured by the ministry that by the end of this month they would begin to receive their allowances.Mr Dokurugu said the allowances paid under the LEAP programme varies with the lowest being GH¢67 and the highest GH¢106.
The LEAP programme
The LEAP programme is a social cash transfer programme that provides cash and health insurance to the extremely poor households across the country.The main aim is to alleviate short-term poverty and encourage long-term human capital development. It was launched in 2008 as Ghana’s flagship programme of the National Social Protection Strategy and it is being implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
Abolishing of witches camp
The Ministry of Gender and its partners in 2014 launched a project to abolish witches camps in the Northern Region but two years after the initiation of the project,the ministry has been able to close down only one out of the six witch camps in the Northern Region at Bonyase in the Central Gonja District. Currently, there are five witch camps in the Northern Region with the Gambaga witches camp in the West Mamprusi District being the oldest, which is believed to have been in existence for about a century.