A Multi-Dimensional Child Poverty in Ghana report by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has indicated that three out of four children, representing 73.4 percent, have been identified as multi-dimensionally poor.
The aim of the study is to understand the complexity of child poverty in Ghana, by investigating children’s access to various goods and services crucial for their long-term development.
A greater proportion of these poor children are said to be living in rural areas, with Upper West Region leading in the regional breakdown followed by Northern Region and Upper East, implying that the Northern regions are still leading on the poverty radar.
The report used eight deprivation indicators: namely Nutrition, Health, Learning, Protection, Water, Sanitation, Housing and Information to aggregate the dimensions. A child is considered to be deprived in a dimension if he or she is deprived of at least three of the indicators.
The sanitation dimension – with toilet type, sharing facilities, open defecation and handwashing as indicators – recorded the highest deprivation rate among all children in Ghana, with 83.4 percent.
The First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, was grieved by the findings of the report and promised to take the report to the president of the Republic, her husband, first thing when she leaves the venue; and will ensure the president reads it and implements the recommendations.
Just as in the recommendations of the report, she called for a multi-sectoral approach through coordinated policy responses by all relevant stakeholders to tackle the challenges head-on.
Ghana in 2017 witnessed a significant decline in the incidence of poverty, from 52.6 percent in 1991 to 23.4 percent; while extreme poverty dropped from 37.6 percent to 8.2 percent over the same period, becoming first country in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (SDG) target of halving extreme poverty.
However, the rate of poverty reduction from 2013 has been minimal – with the absolute number of poor people increasing by approximately 400,000.
The Director General-NDPC, Dr. Kodjo Esseim Mensah-Abrampa, noted that with just 10 years left to achieve the SDG – and in view of its renewed commitment to implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – Ghana needs to prioritise the reduction of child poverty.
“Children in Ghana experience significant deprivation in services, and by implication denial of basic rights. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that appropriate policy actions are put in place and investments in children enhanced,” he said.
Country Representative-UNICEF, Anne-Claire Dufay, indicated that UNICEF supports the measurement of child poverty globally, and has witnessed in 2019 74 countries conducting measurements in relation to monetary child poverty, and 55 countries analysing using multidimensional child poverty methodology.
She emphasised that a multi-sectoral response to the deprivation is required. “A response whereby all sectors of society impact children and their families – from water and sanitation to education to housing and child protection – can strengthen linkages and systems and have a transformational impact on the lives of the most vulnerable,” she said.