Structural Adjustment and Social Disequilibrium in Ghana: An Assessment of PAMSCAD Programme as a Policy Response Tool

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Most governments in Africa embarked upon structural adjustment programmes (SAP) in the mid 1980’s with the aim of stabilizing and improving their economies. Ghana’s adjustment started in 1983 with the view to halt and reverse the almost two decades of stagnation and decay of the economy. SAP in Ghana made significant gains at the macro economic level in the areas of: • export volumes (increased more than 10% from 1983); • inflation (dropped from 123% in 1983 to 10.4% in 1983); • real per capita income (increased by 6.8% in 1984); and • investment (increased more than two-and-half times). Despite the impressive macro-economic gains at the national level, most vulnerable groups were languishing in poverty on the ground. On realizing the social disequilibrium created by SAP and the predicament of the vulnerable groups, the government instituted a Programme of Actions of Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment. (PAMSCAD) as a policy response tool to provide quick relief to the poor throughout the country PAMSCAD projects have been implemented in the country well over eight years and the Secretariat which monitored and coordinated activities folded up in June 1996. This research therefore was undertaken to assess the level of achievements and impacts of PAMSCAD projects on beneficiaries (the poor) at the micro level with Ejisu Juaben, Kumasi and Bosorntwi Atwima Kwanwoma districts as selected cases. Case study approach was used and purposive sampling technique employed to select communities for the study. Primary and secondary data for the study were gathered using formal and informal interviews. Five separate interview schedules (Appendix 3) were prepared and administered among the following: Small Scale Entrepreneurs and Peasant farmers who received PAMSCAD Credit; Communities and individual beneficiaries of PAMSCAD WATSAN Projects; Implementing agencies and the PAMSCAD Secretariat. Focus group discussion was also used. The study revealed moderate achievement level (65.4%) of all PANSCAD projects in the country. However there was a low impact of PAMSCAD projects on beneficiaries. Among the three cases which were selected for assessment, the credit line scheme for the small scale enterprises significantly improved the quality of life of beneficiaries. The credit line scheme for peasant farmers, however, was a failure. The Hand dug wells and. VIP latrines were not able to improve the health status of beneficiaries. Problems which militated against high level achievement and impact include: lack of staff for effective monitoring and coordination; lack of logistic support and funding from donors. Others include high default rate among peasant farmers; poor animation before project implementation and poor timing of projects etc. Two sets of recommendations (section 62) were made in the light of the objectives, findings and problems of the study. The recommendations inter alia were: i. Those which will improve PAMSCAD Projects on the ground among which were: the need for an ex-post evaluation of PAMSCAD credit ceilings, identification of rightful PAMSCAD beneficiaries etc. ii. Those on policy review to improve SAP in order to reduce poverty and hardships associated with it. Examples include: the need to formally incorporate the well-being of the vulnerable in international statements of future adjustment programmes, constant monitoring of living standards of the poor in society and the formulation of sectoral policies to promote opportunities, resources and productivity in small scale sector in agriculture, industry and services etc. It is expected that the above recommendations when carefully implemented will go a long way to improve and ensure high level achievement and positive impacts of PAMSCAD Projects on the poor in the Ghanaian society both now and in the future,
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture, 1997