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Regional News of Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Source: GNA

Ministry holds validation workshop on social protection policy

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, on Tuesday held a day’s stakeholder consultative workshop to validate a national social protection policy, whose process began in January last year.

Nana Oye Lithur, the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, who opened the workshop in Accra, said it was to create a forum for a wider stakeholder review of the draft policy in order to solicit ideas, suggestions and recommendations for the completion of the policy.

Nana Lithur said the goal was to have a well-coordinated, inter-sectoral social protection system, to ensure effective implementation and coordination, and enable people to live in dignity through income support, livelihoods empowerment and improved systems of basic services.

She said this would be done through the provision of social protection for the extreme poor and vulnerable persons in Ghana in an effective and efficient manner, to reduce extreme poverty by 50 per cent by 2025.

In Ghana, the report on the 6th and latest round of the Ghana Living Standards Survey shows that extreme poverty has reduced from 16.5 in 2005/2006 to 8.4 per cent in 2012/2013, this was made possible due to a number of policy and social intervention programmes by government, the Minister said.

She said the Africa MDGs progress report showed that African countries implementing social protection programmes almost doubled in three years from 21 in 2010 to 37 in 2013, with at least two-thirds of African countries having social protection strategies.

The Minister said participants would reach consensus on the proposed priorities of the policy to ensure common understanding and clarity on key elements of the policy and the way forward

Participants will also reach consensus on the role of stakeholders in implementation of the policy and ensuring accountability and generate general understanding on the role of social protection in national development planning.

According to her, the policy aims at increasing access to formal social security to 50 per cent of Ghanaians by 2025.

In the case of the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty, beneficiary household numbers have increased by 62 per cent from 71.936 household and the number of districts and communities has also increased by 90 and 1.740 respectively since January 2013

Nana Lither said LEAP currently covers 116,000 households and is projected to cover over 200,000 by December this year.

She said the NHIS currently covers 10.54 million people, of whom 70 per cent are in the exempt category, adding that in 2014 the NHIA registered 1.5 million people free of charge onto the NHIS

The Labour intensive public works has created over 110,480 temporary employment for the rural poor of which 61.6 per cent are women and created several social infrastructure interventions in the rural areas as small scale and dug-outs, feeder roads.

The free school uniform programme has distributed more than 1,601,700 school uniforms and the free exercise books programme has distributed more than 87,000,000 exercise books.

Dr Ofei Aboagye, former Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies, said participants needed to reflect on issues such as prioritization and coordination of social protection interventions, strengthen budget tracking of social protection interventions: who is getting what?, clarify the definition of targets for social protection interventions, as well as issues of ownership and decentralization of social protection Interventions and the need for a legislation to back every intervention.

Mrs Sarah Hague, Chief of Social Policy at UNICEF and Co-Chair of the Sector working group on social protection, said by drafting and approving a national social protection policy this year and by backing it with robust legislation and comprehensive national protection system, Ghana was showing Africa that indeed it was showing the world that a more equitable future could be achieved for all its citizens by investing in its people, empowering families to prosper and supporting its children.

She said it would help Ghana to fulfil its constitutional mandate to create a more equitable and poverty-free nation where citizens would have equal opportunities to grow, develop and contribute to healthier, happier household and more prosperous Ghana where every child could grow to reach his or her potential.

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