Accepted paper:

The politics of LEAP implementation in Ghana: tracing pathways to uneven effectiveness


Edward Ampratwum (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores politics underpinning uneven implementation of Ghana's LEAP program. Drawing on case analysis in four sub-units, the paper demonstrates the ways in which balance of power among elites and state formation undergirds unevenness in decentralized social protection implementation.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines politics underpinning Ghana's Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) program implementation. LEAP is a centrally driven social transfer program, but implemented through decentralised government sub-units with variant capacities and political conditions. Evaluations have highlighted LEAP's transformative outcomes on beneficiary households. Nonetheless, considerable unevenness exist in LEAP implementation at sub-national levels. The puzzle the paper addresses relates to why LEAP is implemented better in some sub-national units than others? What role do political contexts play in this unevenness? How do variations in sub-national capacities underscore the implementation differences? This paper, based on comparative case studies in four sub-national units (districts) in Ghana, two in the far northwestern (Upper West) and two in the south central (Central) region in 2018, draws on interviews with sub-national elites, bureaucrats and beneficiaries. The paper finds significant variation in community and beneficiary targeting approaches from processes outlined in LEAP documentation. While in some districts, targeting of communities and households largely departed from the LEAP documentation and resulted from intra- and inter-party political considerations; in others, the targeting was more closely aligned with the model, as political and social elite coalitions' protected targeting processes from political influences. The paper also finds that effectiveness of grant delivery in different districts were shaped largely by legacies of state formation and depth of penetration of state infrastructure.

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The politics of implementing social protection programmes: political competition, state capacity and policy feedback [paper]