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Ghana's Social Protection steps into SDGs shoes

By Francis Ameyibor

The United Nations High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF), is tasked to follow-up and review the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.

 

 

2016 would be the first HLPF full fledge session to effectively deliver on its mandate to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on the Agenda's implementation and follow-up; keep track of progress; spur coherent policies informed by evidence, science and country experiences; as well as address new and emerging issues.

 

Ghana as key proponents of the SDGs has already rolled out modalities under the National Social Protection Policy, which classified social protection as essential for achieving sustainable development.

 

In recognition of the need to ensure that citizens are guaranteed relief from destitution, realise their basic rights and are able to participate effectively in the socio-economic life, relevant programmes must be systematically and consistently pursued by nations.

 

It is in this respect that Ghana has developed the social protection policy.

 

Ghana has a rich tradition of social protection efforts by communities and civil society entities and over the years, the state has implemented a range of pro-poor programmes.

 

However, persisting economic and social inequalities indicate the need for intensification, harmonisation and sustenance of these efforts towards a clear vision of the change that is required.

 

The social protection policy document provides a framework for delivering social protection coherently, effectively and efficiently in a way that is holistic and properly targeted.

 

It defines an understanding of social protection and a social protection floor within a Ghanaian context and provides an institutional framework for coordination and as well as stakeholder collaboration in monitoring and ensuring accountability.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection said: "In spite of the contribution of these social protection interventions major challenges such as uncoordinated institutional arrangements, the fragmentation of the social protection interventions, overlaps in programme coverage, duplication and gaps between the various programmes have not helped to achieve maximum results.

 

“It is in this respect that we are developing this national policy on social protection to provide a coherent framework for delivering social protection, effectively and efficiently.”

 

She explained that the policy would contribute to the reduction of poverty, inequalities, improving productivity and incomes, enhancing cohesiveness of the Ghanaian society while at the same time protecting the extreme poor and vulnerable groups.

 

Ghana’s social protection policy targets some the SDGs seeks to ensure that by 2030, the world eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day.

 

Reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions; and implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.

 

Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions

 

Nana Oye Lithur explained that it is in this context and along with Ghana’s other international and national commitments that there is an urgent need to streamline coordination and delivery of social protection.

 

While there are several on-going initiatives with social protection implications, the prospects for economic growth, the social dynamics and national aspirations require a more efficient, more holistic and better-targeted approach.

 

Other features of the transforming Ghanaian environment include its’ transition to middle income country status, technological advancement and the changes in community, cultural and family arrangements.

 

She said these have had implications for the traditional social protection systems. On the other hand, the development of vibrant civil society organisations, active workers’ organisations and an informed media has increased the opportunities for dialogue, social accountability and pursuit of responsive development.

 

The Gender Minister noted that a modern system of social protection in Ghana has the potential to have significant impacts on incomes, equitable development, and increased access to social services for the extreme poor and vulnerable.

 

To facilitate the required reform, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC) was restructured into the new Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) with a mandate to coordinate national social protection policy provisions and efforts.

 

The National Social Protection Policy is intended to facilitate the work of MoGCSP by providing direction for the development, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of social protection.

 

Mr Kwesi Armo-Himbson, Chief Director of the Gender Ministry told the GNA that social protection under the context refers to an integrated set of social policies designed to guarantee income security and access to social services for all.

 

He said it pays particular attention to vulnerable groups and protecting and empowering people across the life cycle.

 

Mr Armo-Himbson said social protection could be understood as a set of complementary interventions that help individuals and households to confront risk and adversity (including emergencies) to ensure a minimum standard of dignity living and well-being throughout the life cycle.

 

Social protection could be interpreted as a set of actions or measures and services to help people or public confront risk and adversity (including vulnerabilities) and ensure a minimum standard of dignity and well-being throughout-the lifecycle to ensure provision for other actors.

 

He explained that social security refers to the action programmes of government intended to promote the welfare of the population through assistance measures guaranteeing access to sufficient resources for food and shelter.

 

It’s also to promote health and well-being for the population at large and potentially vulnerable segments such as children, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed.

 

Interventions provided by government and designated agencies for purposes of social security may be called social services and may include medical care, financial support during unemployment, sickness, retirement, health and safety at work, social work and even industrial relations.

 

“We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.

 

“We are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature…Ghanaians must join to make social protection a landmark achievement,” Nana Oye Lithur said.

 

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