Feb 18, 2014 at 3:20pm
Social Protection: potent tool to address poverty
Ghana has asserted that Social Protection constitutes a potent tool to address poverty, vulnerability and exclusion, Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection stated at 52 Session of the UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD52).

The Gender Minister noted that poverty eradication is a complex global issue which requires the attention of all as the negative ramifications of poverty particularly in developing countries require a concerted effort by all stakeholders.

“We need to develop and implement workable strategies to address the situation by sharing best practices, knowledge, skills and experiences to reduce increased risks faced by the poor and to enhance their quality of life.

“We have adopted a consolidated and coordinated approach to social protection in implementing Social Protection programmes in addition to other interventions in a multi-dimensional approach.

“As the role of Government in empowering the vulnerable, extreme poor, disadvantage to escape poverty, deprivation through social protection interventions and decent work cannot be overemphasized,” the Gender Minister stated in a speech read on her behalf by Mr Mawutor Ablo, Director - Social Protection, Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection.

The Gender Minister emphasized that government is committed to the empowerment of people as essential to achieving sustainable social and economic development.

Nana Oye Lithur said, government therefore, adopted the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) which is expected to address issues of equity across geographic regions as well as all socio-economic groupings.

“It is an all-inclusive agenda which includes promoting productive employment and decent work for all, as well as social integration, and policies intended to promote the empowerment all socio economic groupings,” she noted.

Ghana’s Social Protection floor addresses issues of Access to Essential Health Services; Income Security for Children; Income Security for Persons of Working Age; Income Security for Old Persons. Under Access to Essential Health Care, the National Health Insurance Scheme which is being strengthened, enhanced and expanded.

She noted that as a way forward in harmonizing our Social protection interventions, Ghana is in the process of establishing a National Targeting System…..

“This offers an opportunity to effectively direct social protection resources towards the poorest members of the society thereby contributing to realizing their rights in an efficient and cost effective way.

“It will help establish a national single registry database of households to be used by all Social Protection interventions in Ghana”.

The Gender Minister noted that the country has undertaken a rationalization of Social Protection interventions – reducing the number from 44 to 11 interventions including two new ones - Maternal Cash Benefits and Universal Old Age Pensions to make current social protection spending more effective, efficient, and sustainable at system and individual programme levels.

On assessment of the social protection projects, Nana Oye Lithur disclosed that the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP), initiated in 2008 and covering over 74,000 beneficiary households, reveals that, the programme is reaching the poorest families and has impacted on the well-being of targeted families in Ghana.

In Education, the programme has contributed to a 7 per cent increase in enrolment and 10 per cent reduction in grade repetition in public basic schools.

In Health it has contributed to 90 per cent increase in the enrolment of the poor onto the National Health Insurance Scheme, 25 per cent reduction in national food insecurity with an additional 13 days of work on the farm by smaller families and 11 per cent savings.

It is also helping in building capacity of beneficiaries to become active participants in their communities. “The impact of the transfer far exceeds the amount invested in the local economy. Every One Ghana Cedi (GH¢1.00) invested has the potential to generate GH¢2.5,” she stated.

Nana Oye Lithur explained that the Labour Intensive Public Works, within one year of implementation, has generated employment for over 88,867 poor persons temporarily employed with 57 per cent being female.

“It has also within beneficiary communities, enhanced rural Micro-enterprise development in the form of additional livelihoods; communal spirit; social cohesion and relations as well as access to health services; educational services; household and capital goods; reduction in seasonal migration and improved housing conditions,” she said.

The School Feeding programme has over 1.6 million school pupils being fed with a hot nutritious meal every school going day. School enrolment, attendance and retention increased by 80 per cent, and a total of 38,751 farmers are benefiting from the programme and cultivating 30,973.8 hectors of land.

Achievements under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) also reveals that the scheme has registered, and is providing service to a category of over 930,685 beneficiaries (namely, children under school feeding programme, orphanages, mentally challenged persons, LEAP beneficiaries and other vulnerable groups).

“Our next level of implementation is to work on a Social Protection Policy for governance and institutional structures at all level, as well as a legislation to anchor Social Protection as a permanent feature of our development agenda,” the Gender Minister stated.

The 52 Session of the UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD52) which is being held on the theme: "Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all," will end on February 21.

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