UNICEF underscores need to address gaps in social protection delivery

Accra- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has underscored the need for stakeholders to address gaps in Ghana’s social protection delivery in relation to rights.

Madam Aarti Saihjee, Acting Deputy Representative (IOC), UNICEF Ghana, noted that embedding rights principles in social protection affected how programmes were designed, implemented and the outcomes geared towards reducing poverty and vulnerability.

She said embedding rights principles in social protection was key in ensuring that citizens received the kind of social protection they needed throughout their lifecycle and were empowered to ask questions when faced with delivery gaps.

Madam Saihjee said this at a forum on Rights Based Approach to Social Protection, organised by UNICEF on the theme: Are Ghanaians Receiving the Social Protection they Deserve?

Madam Saihjee emphasised that embedding rights principles in social protection would put a responsibility on the state and service providers to create the necessary enabling environment for effective and efficient programme delivery.

This calls for consistency in the flow of funds to social protection programmes and for the progressive implementation of a national social protection floor to ensure all Ghanaians have access to social protection when they need it, she added.

She said the Sustainable Development Goal one on poverty, mandated nation states to implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and vulnerable.

She said Ghana had made several national commitments on social protection, however, the question remained, to what extent has Ghana fulfilled these obligations especially to those who deserve and must receive social protection.

She reiterated that in that regard UNICEF was committed to working with its partners to promote the application of rights principles in social protection delivery, and this partnership is expected to promote accountability and ensure responsiveness to the social protection needs of citizens.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Dr Ernest Owusu Dapaa, Consultant on the Social Protection Bill, said the Bill highlighted the attempt to implement the national social protection policy, which had been in existence for a while.

He said the policy which had gone through broad consultations and represented all ideas on social protection, has been reviewed and validated by the current government and was being given a concrete expression in the form of legislation.

Dr Dapaa told GNA that social protection initiatives including LEAP had no legislation, adding that unfortunately some beneficiaries think the government of the day or government of a particular time is doing them a favor”.

Over the past two decades, Ghana has implemented a range of national programmes in social protection, including the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP), the exempt provisions in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the Labour Intensive Public Works Programmes.

The challenges experienced in the delivery of social protection in Ghana have included financing, coordination, monitoring, evaluation, programme communication, targeting and local level ownership and public understanding.

The critical question has been raised as to whether rights have been sufficiently taken account of in the design and approaches to social protection in Ghana, especially over the last decade even while reforms have been undertaken.

In other words, could the lack of an adequate focus on rights be responsible for the inconsistent funding, service delivery and public attitudes to social protection initiatives; and also to what extent does programme participants and the public understand social protection as a right and not as an unmerited reward.

Source: Ghana News Agency