More investment in social protection needed – SEND Ghana survey

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Ghanaians are pushing for more investment in social protection, dedicated sources of funding for social interventions, and increased transparency and accountability in the delivery of social interventions, a survey by SEND Ghana – a civil society organisation – has revealed.

The survey was carried out to identify the needs of Ghanaians ahead of the 2020 polls, and shows that issues which matter to Ghanaians are more social than political; and it is the citizenry’s hope that political parties will include these demands in their manifestos.

The survey had three thematic areas – including coverage of flagship social protection interventions; financing of social protection interventions; and delivery and transparency of social protection programmes.

On the theme of coverage for flagship social protection interventions, citizens expect an expansion of flagship programmes such as Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), National Health Insurance Scheme and School Feeding Programme to cover all those who need to be included.

For LEAP, which currently covers 1.65 million out of the 2.4 million extremely poor people in Ghana, a gap of 750,000 is left to be covered. The NHIS must expand to cover preventive health tests and illnesses such as Hepatitis, cancer, snake-bites, other chronic illnesses and essential drugs; and school feeding must be expanded to cover all public basic schools in the country.

On financing social protection interventions, the survey finds that citizens want a 100% increment in financial support for LEAP beneficiaries – because the current value of support is inadequate for meeting the needs and nutritional requirements of enrolled households, and a mechanism for review should be established to reflect the prevailing inflation rate.

For School Feeding, there is a need for establishing dedicated sources of funding for social protection programmes, and also ensure the timely release of capitation grants to beneficiary schools.

On the last theme of delivery and transparency of social protection programmes, the survey demands that the School Feeding Secretariat should be made an authority to control political interference – with caterers on the programme recruited from recognised associations and not by political affiliation.

Also, there is a need for improvement in monitoring to ensure that caterers are not overpaid, and need for the production of an official document to guide the selection of beneficiary schools.

A statement signed by George Osei-Akoto-Bimpeh, Country Director of SEND GHANA, noted that the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the world has shown, yet again, the critical need to invest in social protection as a country.

As a new study by the United Nations has shown this pandemic could turn back the clock 30 years on global poverty. Similarly, Delloite in its study on impact of COVID-19 on the economy of Ghana notes that Ghana’s estimated GDP growth is set to plummet from a target of 6.8% to about 2.6% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There could not be a better time to have a conversation on social protection than now, especially as the pandemic could potentially worsen the widening inequalities already present in the country,” he said.

The 2020 election, he noted, presents a greater opportunity for Ghanaians to put some of the many issues confronting the country’s poor and vulnerable on the national agenda, as political parties campaign for the people’s mandate.

“It is important to note that the adverse impacts that COVID-19 leaves behind could pose an even daunting challenge for the next government to deliver on its promises. This makes it even more imperative for political parties to show a clear commitment on how they will deliver some of the most critical aspects of social protection,” he added.

He pointed out that long before the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana, SEND Ghana and its partners had broader consultations with citizens across the country to share their expectations of what they are looking forward to in the manifestos of contesting political parties to address poverty and inequality.

“Over the next few weeks, we will be engaging political parties and the media on the thematic areas around which the citizens’ manifesto was developed. With just about six months to go to the next polls, the electorates must remain focused and demand political parties to prioritise these critical issues in their social protection manifestoes – and show a clear commitment to implementing them when they win the people’s mandate.”

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