The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Platform on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has released its report on a research they undertook to gauge government’s response on the impact of COVID-19 and its support to citizens.
The report dubbed, “Dissemination and Dialogue Session on the Impact of Government’s Response to COVID-19 on Citizens,” is to support communities, NGOs and other citizens to develop and implement initiatives at the local and national level especially supporting the vulnerable groups in order to assess their socio-economic status and how to keep them cushioned.
It sought an outcome of increasing transparency, responsiveness and accountability of government and its relevant agencies to citizens around the development and implementation of COVID-19 response plans including the utilisation of resources from April to August, 2020.
The report was funded by SEND Ghana
Mr Kwadwo Owusu, National Coordinator for the CSOs Platform on SDGs, who led the virtual release and discussions on the report on Wednesday said, some 123 respondents, 70 per cent of them males, participated in the study.
He said an exploratory research approach was adopted to collect data to understand the impact of COVID-19, disclosing that notwithstanding the small sample size, their expected outcomes were attained.
He said similar exercise undertaken by Statistical Service and the World Bank with about 4,000 respondents had returned same conclusions.
Key report findings say patronage of health facilities for treatment for all other disease have since decreased, personal protective equipment (PPEs) supplied to health facilities were deemed not enough and inadequate.
Others were majority of Ghanaians have benefited from subsidy from water and electricity, patronage of local business have decreased and agricultural sectors have not been directly provided for now.
It recommended that government needed to provide subsidies on farm inputs such as fertilizers and seeds for the farming season as farmers businesses were affected greatly by the pandemic.
It identified that many more businesses were yet to apply for support from the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme despite the fact that they have been affected by the pandemic.
It suggested a collaboration between the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) and Metropolitan, Municipal and Districts (MMDAs) to decentralise application processes to the zonal or area council levels, so more small-scale business owners, who were tech savvy could apply and have access to loans.
To promote transparency, it said NBSSI should inform applicants of the range of funds they could apply for and provide reasons for unsuccessful applications. In as much as the support was financial, the NBSSI could consider support in a form of equipment or inputs and provide coaching to businesses on internet marketing.
It urged government to work assiduously on the social protection systems of the country, fast-track to complete the household registry, which would help to identify the poor for such interventions so that they could benefit the most.
On government’s subvention on utility, it showed that 75 per cent benefited from the government of Ghana subsidy measures on electricity with 62.6 per cent benefiting from the water policy.
On Education, 38.3 per cent and 30.8 per cent indicated using home tutoring and private school learning platforms respectively for their children with on effectiveness, 15.4 per cent found the e-learning platform effective and 47.3 per cent found it to be somewhat effective.
It observed that Local Government was lost in the equation for the fight for COVID-19 responses, urging the Ministry to up its game and be visible.
It noted there was no intervention from the government to the agricultural sector, with farmers badly battered under the pandemic, most losing their livelihoods.
Dr Emmanuel Ayifah, Deputy Country Director, SEND Ghana, noticed there was huge ICT knowledge gap for public and rural schools, which were the most afflicted and recommended for increase in internet penetration, to make cost of data cheaper and telecos investing in infrastructure to increase reach.