Ghana’s National Protection Policy and Sustainable Development
By Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath
A traditional wisdom in African proverb reminds us that: “Complaints do not eliminate poverty.”
Cambridge Dictionary defines Policy as “a set of ideas or a plan of what to do in particular situations that has been agreed to officially by a group of people, a business organization, a government, or a political party.”
If the above-quoted definition of Policy is anything to go by, then Ghana, as a nation has no problem at all. Should we compile all policy documents formulated by various Governments of Ghana since independence, even the University of California Library, which is said to be the largest in the world, cannot contain them.
Within the last three months alone, Government has launched some of the most profound policies that, if implemented to the letter, the country will be dancing to the “Blue Haven”. Two of the said policies that readily come to mind are the National Migration Policy, launched by the Ministry of the Interior in April, and the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Broadcasting Policy, by the Ministry of Communications in May this year.
The Ghanaian Times has dutifully and faithfully published full page features on some of the national policies written by this author and others as part of their public education and awareness creation for the benefit of the citizenry. In their views, if the people for whom such policies are made are not aware of them, then it is better they were not formulated at all in the first place.
The purpose of this article is to inform the general public, especially those who are yet know about the launch of another crucial policy, which aims at ensuring social protection of the people of Ghana. The target beneficiaries of this policy are some of the most vulnerable in our society. They include women, children, and people with disabilities, the aged, the deprived, the maginalised and our most unfortunate grandmothers in some parts of our country.
These are hardworking women who are not only discriminated against, but are also baptised and stigmatised as witches for no apparent reasons. What is their crime? That they are old ladies who are going through some biological or physiological changes at a certain stage of their lives? For that matter they must be rejected by their own relatives and abandoned in some camps to face the vicissitudes of life?
Please can somebody tell those intolerant relatives that we are in the 21st century Ghana? The other day I saw on television, some of these noble but miserable old ladies insisting that they preferred staying in the witch camps to going back to their relatives to be lynched. What a pity. A traditional adage has it that “when I look after you to grow your teeth, you must also look after me to drop my teeth.” But look at how society is treating these so-called witches. We rarely see the same treatment being meted out to wizards. Why? It is some of the plights of such people that the Social Protection Policy seeks to address.
It was Hon. Rashid Pelpuo, Minister of State, Private-Public Partnership, who officially launched the policy document on behalf of the President of the Republic of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, on Monday, 13 June this year, here in Accra. He told the nation that the policy would propel Ghana to achieving the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending poverty in all its forms. He added that the formulation of the Social Protection Policy underscored government’s commitment to building a prosperous and equitable society.
But is it possible to end poverty “in all its forms” in reality? There is poverty in America. Nevertheless, the fact that a policy has been formulated to enable citizens to realise their basic right and participate in socio-economic life is commendable. According to Hon. Pelpuo, the policy would further propel Ghana to achieving a substantive inclusion of the poor and vulnerable equitable distribution of national “kenkey”. This is laudable indeed!
Ghana’s Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), Mrs. Nana Oye Lithur, who championed the formulation of the National Social Protection Policy, has opined that this was the first time the government and the people of Ghana had initiated a holistic approach to the protection of the most vulnerable in Ghanaian society.
She pointed out that her ministry’s vision is to aspire to mitigate and reduce vulnerabilities, close the inequality gap and to ensure total inclusion of all Ghanaians in the social protection basket of the nation. Mrs. Lithur said the National Gender Policy, which had also been printed in Braille, would also deliver a well co-ordinated, inter-sectoral social protection system that would enable people to live in dignity through income support, livelihood empowerment and improved access to basic services. Is it not fantastic?
According to the Minister, the policy was anchored on Ghana’s National Development Planning framework and drew from the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA II 2014-2017), and the Co-ordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies (2014-2020) as well as a range of sectoral policies and programmes.
She explained that technical and operational co-ordination of social protection initiatives rested with MoGCSP, supported by the Social Protection Sector Working Group (SPSWG) and the Social Protection Inter-sectoral Technical Committee (SPISTC). It is hoped that such a magnificent policy would not be a still-born baby from the womb to the tomb, but would be nurtured and be put into practical implementation to achieve the intended goals and objectives.
For the purpose of this article, it is relevant to highlight some of the goals and objectives as related in the Policy Brief document for the benefit of Ghanaians: one of the goals is to promote the well-being of Ghanaians through “an integrated platform of effective social assistance, and financial access to social services.”
With regard to objectives, which can be said to specific, measurable, achievable and time bound, it stipulated that “within the next one and a half decades (2016-2031), it is envisioned that through social protection programmes, poverty would be reduced by half through increased and improved effective and efficient social assistance for poor and vulnerable Ghanaians.”
Another objective that caught my fancy is that, with the coming into being of this policy, “employment opportunities would have been considerably enhanced through the promotion of productive inclusion and decent work to sustain families and communities.” Wompe woyia wopeden? To wit: If you don’t like this what do you want?
In fact, there are some specific objectives or goals technically referred to in the Policy Brief document as “The Social Protection Floor”. They include, “Access to basic essential health care for all, with particular attention to maternal health; Minimum income security to access the basic needs of life for children; Minimum income security for people of working age; and finally, Minimum income security for older persons…”
How do we, as a nation, ensure that the lofty goals and objectives of this policy are implemented to the fullest? Again, it is reassuring that the document itself made provision for some element in the policy dubbed “Ghana’s Social Protections Obligations.”
For an article of this nature, I wish to state the first paragraph of the said Protection Obligations for record purposes: “The National Social Protection Policy is guided by the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Fourth Republican Constitution. It seeks to provide just and reasonable access of all people in Ghana to public facilities and services and promote respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms…”
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The writer works with Information Services Department (ISD) in Accra firstname.lastname@example.org