Regional News of 2014-05-21

Draft policy on social protection for Cabinet soon

A draft policy that will ensure the sustainability of social protection programmes in the country is to be placed before the Cabinet this week.

The comprehensive policy, when accepted, will be followed by the development of a social protection legal framework that will enjoin successive governments to implement social intervention programmes.

The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, made this known at a press briefing organised by the ministry in Accra yesterday.

The media briefing was to enlighten journalists on how the ministry was co-ordinating social protection programmes, especially the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) cash transfer programme.

Currently, there are 44 social protection programmes being implemented by different ministries, out of which 11 are most vibrant.

Among them are the LEAP,?which is the flagship of all the social intervention programmes, the school feeding programme, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), free uniforms and exercise books programme.

Social Intervention Programmes

Under the LEAP programme, which started in 2008, 100,000 households are expected to benefit from a GH¢38 million grant by the end of 2014.

According to Nana Oye, her ministry was also developing an institutional framework for coordination at the national, regional, district and community levels to ensure good governance and efficient administration, as well as implement the monitoring and evaluation system for the LEAP.

She said the ministry had established a social protection directorate to develop and implement the country’s social protection agenda.

Also, the ministry was setting up a national targeting unit, with support from the World Bank, to, among other things, establish a Ghana National Household Registry from which all potential beneficiaries for social protection programmes would be selected.

The ministry, she said, was also implementing a policy for the elderly to protect their rights and welfare, adding that 900 elderly people above 70 years and persons with disability in some parts of Accra were last month registered on the NHIS.

Brazil experience

Nana Oye said the country was at the crossroads in its implementation of social protection programmes, adding that a government delegation was sent to Brazil to understudy that country’s implementation of its social protection programme. The UNICEF Country Representative, Ms Susan Ngongi, said LEAP, as a social intervention programme, was to serve as a springboard for beneficiaries to ‘leap’ out of poverty, as well as for targeted groups to become socially empowered by increasing their access to education, health care and other basic social services.

Ms Ngongi, who was also in Brazil as part of the study tour of the country’s social protection programme, said, “With their subsistence secured, the extremely poor will become full participants in society and be free to engage in productive activities to support themselves and ultimately contribute to national development by reducing the incidence of domestic poverty.”

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Social Welfare and State Enterprises, Mr Joseph Amenowode, said there was the need to help people who were under social protection be weaned off the programme with time.

A representative from the Embassy of Brazil, Ms Edinam Adzosii Adjei-Sika, said Brazil was ready to support Ghana to build a customised social protection system that best suited the country.

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