Nana Oye Lithur
Nana Oye Lithur

Recent assessment of social protection in Ghana indicates that there is considerable national commitment and potential for successful interventions.

Nana Oye Lithur
Nana Oye Lithur
This is empowered through the Constitution which provides for social protection. Social assistance for instance is embedded in the country?s laws, yet it has been observed that there are some inconsistencies, which has resulted in the country?s inability to address the lifecycle risks of individuals or coverage of all those who rightly qualify.

There is therefore an urgent legal framework to define the package of benefits and services as well as secure the interests of key interest groups.

Even though through legislation, some social security is available to cover pensions, maternity benefits, death benefits and disability,the formal social security arrangements exclude certain categories of employed persons, particularly informal sector workers. A more comprehensive maternity package is also desirable.

Mrs Dela Sowah, Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection in an interview with the Ghana News Agency noted that while progress has been made to provide some protection for those in formal employment, there is more to be done to cover the significant proportion of employees in the informal economy.

The social protection policy must work towards a progressive realization of the rights of access to social protection.

Implementation of social insurance schemes

Effective implementation of social insurance schemes, compliance with the provisions of the Labour Law and other relevant workplace protection arrangements needs to be augmented.

Mrs Sowah noted that among other concerns, though the National Health Insurance (NHI) Act is in place, there are still challenges relating to uptake and the operationalization of the exemptions.

There are significant gaps in the social insurance domain including unemployment insurance, limited coverage for occupational injuries on duty and diseases, she noted.

She stressed that strengthening monitoring and evaluation is required to credibly assess progress, efficient and effective delivery and appreciate the totality of outcomes and impacts of social protection interventions.

There is a significant gap between the elderly covered by social assistance and those that benefit from contributory pension schemes. Therefore, several older persons suffer the indignity of poverty.

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection national paper obtained by the GNA indicates that presently, social protection involves a number of different programmes of varying scales and coverage, different administrative arrangements, targeting approaches, monitoring and evaluation frameworks and reporting systems.

The weaknesses in coordination have resulted in lack of coherence, duplication and overlap, issues of sustainability, inefficient use of resources, turf-war and competition.

An overarching social protection structure that covers both social assistance and social insurance to ensure that basic services are national, planned and integrated is imperative.,

There is also the need for sufficient capacity to deliver and innovate in response to the needs of beneficiaries.

Apart from the public sector interventions, there are several initiatives by civil society and the private sector. Civil society programmes include efforts by traditional authorities, faith organizations and membership associations to address the concerns of the poor and vulnerable.

As the social protection system matures, the number of private providers of products for retirement, disability, invalidity, death benefits and private healthcare shall increase.

Gender Advocates

Gender Advocates told the GNA that the government has a responsibility to ensure a proper regulatory framework in order to exercise oversight over the quality of benefits, the costs, the standards and conduct to protect citizens.

Whilst the Gender Minister, Nana Oye Lithur noted that targeting is still a key challenge for ensuring that interventions reach the intended persons, the current system needs strengthening to ensure that people who are equally poor but are excluded because of their places of residence have access to social protection benefits.

Financing of social protection needs to become more predictable, transparent and accountable and must be based on sound financial management and administration.

The system in its current form requires a stronger ?complaints and appeal procedure? and holistic and robust implementation monitoring.

Nana Oye Lithur noted that key Social Protection programmes have demonstrated considerable improvement over the years based on credible review processes.

However, these programmes must be expanded and made more efficient by leveraging resources and innovations particularly in technology to cover the 8.2 per cent of the extremely poor population. Also, further improvements in strengthening management information, monitoring evaluation, targeting, payments and case management are required in the individual initiatives as well as an integrated programme.

Nana Oye Lithur noted that in relation to the Livelihoods Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) Programme, medium term priorities include alternative design options such as expanding the eligibility criteria to all the poor (beyond the present targets of older persons, persons with disabilities and orphans and vulnerable children) and linking LEAP benefits to complementary services/programmes promoting income generating activities and support better livelihoods.

The Gender Minister noted that the next steps for LEAP include:

? piloting of hotlines for complaints and feedback to enhance citizen participation and social accountability

? scaling up of electronic payment across all beneficiary households,

? link the recertification of LEAP beneficiaries to data

? Improve LEAP institutional arrangement to enhance efficiency.

Labour Intensive Public Works (LIPW)

Other perspective is Labour Intensive Public Works (LIPW), implemented through Ghana Social Opportunities Project (GSOP), is to create employment opportunities for the rural poor through the rehabilitation of community assets, including feeder roads, small earth dams and dugouts as well as climate change mitigation interventions.

The Gender Minister explained that in over three years of implementation, the programme has provided 5,400,000 million person days of employment to 100,000 poor individuals in 49 districts in the poorest regions of the country.

Other significant areas of innovations in the delivery include the delivery of payments through a biometrically verified electronic payment platform and a Web-Based Management Information System (MIS) which is designed to report on all the indicators on the Results Framework.

The impact evaluation results also demonstrated evidence of the programme?s socio-economic impacts on households and communities.

Next steps for the delivering the LIPW include

(i) Closer coordination with other SP Programmes with stronger linkages and more wholistic effects at the household level

(ii) Ensure that LIPW is included in the national budget request process

(iii) Include analyses on the economic value of the community assets, as well as the impacts of LIPW on seasonal migration and social cohesion as part of the next round of impact evaluation.

by: Francis Ameyibor


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