Beyond poverty reduction: Conditional cash transfers and citizenship in Ghana

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Abstract

Ghana's Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme provides conditional cash transfers to poor households in deprived communities. Beyond the potentiality of the LEAP programme to reduce poverty, its implications for shaping state–citizen relations and inclusive citizenship have been largely ignored. This study explored the implications of the programme on notions of citizenship among cash recipients. The findings indicate that the programme generates interfaces that strengthen state–citizen interaction and serves as a promising avenue for reintegration. However, it is also characterised by undue delay in cash payment and weak institutional capacity to mediate interactive processes and grievances, which suggests that the contractual relationship and the state's accountability are weak. Furthermore, the programme has negatively influenced community social relations, limiting the forms of agency beneficiaries exercised. The study concludes that although LEAP represents a landmark in Ghana's quest for inclusive citizenship, it undermines social relations and citizens’ rights to hold the state accountable, which unavoidably limits effective state building.

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