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GSS survey says incomes of 22 million households squeezed by COVID-19

Professor Kwabena Annim, head of Ghana Statistical Service

Ghana News Agency (Accra) – More than 22 million Ghanaians have been affected by a reduction in household income since 16 March 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions were first introduced, a survey by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has shown.

That figure represents roughly 77.4% of all households in Ghana, all experiencing a decrease in income.

The Government Statistician, Professor Samuel Annim, who presented these findings during a virtual briefing, said households which reported relying on income from a non-farm family business were hardest hit.

Between 3 June and 9 June 2020 more than one million people – 3.4% of the people living in Ghana – said that suspension of work was the reason for their not working.

Between 10 June and 25 June, the GSS interviewed thousands of households across the country to find out how the novel coronavirus has affected their lives and work.

The Households and Jobs Tracker is an initiative, led by the GSS and maintained in partnership with UNICEF and the World Bank, with technical support from the US-based Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA).

Living conditions

The nationally representative sample survey is one of three COVID-19 impact studies being implemented by the GSS. The intention is to follow over 3,000 households, spread across all 16 regions of Ghana, through telephone-based interviews.

The study is planned for a seven-month period (June to December 2020) to accommodate multiple waves of surveys that will help assess mobility across various dimensions of living conditions as they respond to the effects of the coronavirus. It will also monitor attendant interventions by both individual households and the state.

The survey consists of two modules. Module A focuses on the effects of COVID-19 on households generally and Module B assesses the effects of the pandemic on children and family situations.

Professor Annim said that, to cope with the effects of COVID-19, more than half of all households (52.1%) had reduced their food consumption, with 77.4% of households saying they had been affected severely by increases in food prices.

Roughly 9% of households reported having received some form of assistance, especially free food.

The survey also found that, out of the 29.9% of children aged between six and 14 who are on school feeding programmes, more than half (57%) had continued to receive free food over the previous four weeks, while schools remain closed.

The effect on education remains a major challenge. The closure of schools is considered the main disruption to households.

For some … learning is at a standstill

As high a proportion as 35% of primary school children and children in JHS as well as 28 per cent of students in SHS, were not engaged in any form of learning while at home.

The biggest challenge that children for home learning face in this period is a lack of basic tools such as computers or phones, the survey shows. Poor access to these tools, or none, is affecting over a quarter of children in basic schools (25.6%) and one-third of SHS children (32.7%).

Almost all children (96.6%) are likely to return to school once the restrictions ease and schools reopen.

Professor Annim said preparations are already under way for the second round of the survey, which will take place this month, August.

He said several thematic reports, including one on the survey methodology, provide more insights into the effects of COVID-19 and will be released in the coming weeks. They cover topics such as health care, education, employment, food security and household coping mechanisms.

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