Social Protection consists of a set of formal and informal mechanisms directed towards the provision of social assistance and capacity) enhancement to the vulnerable and excluded in society. In broad terms, such measures cover extremely poor individuals, households and communities, including those who need special care but lack access to basic social services and social insurance to protect themselves from the risks and consequences of livelihood shocks, social inequities, social exclusion and denial of rights. Social Protection thus goes beyond income support and includes the strengthening of social cohesion, human development, livelihoods and protection of rights and entitlements.
According to the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS 2000). the poverty profile of Ghana indicates that an estimated 40% of Ghanaians are "’poor". This refers to citizens who have the capacity to meet their basic nutritional needs, but are unable to cater for additional necessities such as health, shelter, clothing and education. Furthermore, an additional 14.7% of the population is afflicted by "extreme poverty" and thus unable to cater for basic human needs including their nutritional requirements and suffer from poverty across generations.
The Government of Ghana’s vision of a National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS) is the creation of a society in which the citizenry are duly empowered with the capacity to realize their rights and responsibilities to manage social, economic, political and cultural shocks. Social Protection interventions will afford persons in extreme poverty to contribute to economic growth within the framework of the Ghana Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRS II. 2006-2009).
This is viewed within the context of meeting basic rights endorsed by globally acclaimed human rights instruments in addition to other international and national commitments such as the MDGs, the GPRS II and the 1992 Constitution. The overall goal of the Social Protection Strategy is thus to provide policy direction in the protection of persons living in situations of extreme poverty, vulnerability and exclusion from both expected and unanticipated threats to their livelihoods, with a view to making them effective participants in the socio-economic development of the country.
Successful implementation of the Strategy will provide safeguards for, and empower individuals and households living under extreme conditions of poverty to become responsible managers of their livelihoods, and claim their societal rights and entitlements. The benefits of interventions will be recycled from the individual to the community and ultimately to the nation at large and will be manifested by improvements in overall standards of living, hence the designation, "Investing in People".
The Strategy reviews and improves existing coverage of Social Protection programmes, identifies additional schemes that take account of existing gaps in coverage and provides for the strengthening of institutional arrangements and capacities of government departments and agencies, civil society organizations and communities for delivery of Social Protection interventions. The Strategy will be accompanied by a policy shift in the allocation of resources towards mechanism for effective protection and promotion of " livelihoods that address the root poverty, vulnerability and exclusion.
Directing Social Protection interventions towards increasing the vulnerable and excluded to manage risks will have the benefits positive to economic growth given that with time, individuals and co be in a position to integrate their support into mainstream economic thereby reduce reliance on both public and private support systems.
Vulnerability and Exclusion in Ghana
Ghana’s Poverty and Social Inclusion Assessment (PSIA) identifies segments of the population that suffer differential vulnerabilities depending Security. According to the study, the most vulnerable and excluded characterized by severe livelihood insecurity and are unable to cope life-cycle risks and shocks.
Furthermore, because poverty has multiple effects, it’s imposed exclusion on affected citizens goes beyond an inability to provide for basic needs to a lack of access to education, health, information and the opportunity participate in social processes. These citizens are further characterized by denial of rights, the inability to demand accountability, lack of access as well as other institutional barriers that contribute to poverty. Vulnerability social exclusion.
The PSIA further identifies small-scale farmers,the vulnerable group in the country due to multiple risks and establishes a link between gender and poverty where rural farmers, mainly women, are among society.
Justification for a National Social Protection Strategy for Ghana
The Strategy is louded on the philosophy that all Ghanaians opportunity, can contribute towards the process of transforming Ghana income country by the year 2015. Vulnerable and excluded segmented population potentially reverse the gains of overall developmental effort and their tendency to take away rather than contribute to national economy. Furthermore, the youth (aged between 15 -35 years) who are the most vibrant of the society and constitute an estimated 26% of the total population lack attention.
Their situation is characterized by among others unemployment attendant problems of social vices, disillusionment and poverty. It is the youth who are also full of potentials, which if properly harnessed could lead towards effective human resource development and also for socio-economic advancement.
The misconception that Social Protection represents wasteful handouts to poor people has been overtaken by recent research and thinking, which it contributes to development and growth in several ways. It facilitates human and physical assets thereby reducing the risk of future poverty,Risk-taking livelihood strategies. It provides safety nets and facilitates economic cohesion, reducing the likelihood of conflict. Finally, its market failures such as imperfect credit and insurance markets.
It is Indispensable element of economic growth and ultimately an effective development strategy, the opportunity costs of not putting in place measures in repositioning the vulnerable and excluded are therefore high and this strategy presents a series of Social Protection intervention that cost effective and affordable.
Furthermore. Social Protection is founded on the principles of human rights \Article 17 (4)(a) of the 1992 Constitution sets the stage for the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at redressing social, economic or educational imbalances in the Ghanaian society. By the same measure, the ’Directive Principles of State Policy’ of the Constitution guarantees the protection and promotion of all basic human rights and freedoms, including the rights of the disabled, the aged, children and other vulnerable groups (Article 37-2b). Social Protection therefore is a right of every citizen.
While Social Protection is not a novelty, uncoordinated delivery and poor targeting of Most of the existing interventions have resulted in limited coverage and impact. The Absence of a coordinating agency to monitor implementation of varied Social Protection programmes across institutions has resulted in a lack of cohesion and Coordinated response.
The Department of Social Welfare (DSW), which has the mandate and technical expertise in the integration of the vulnerable and excluded into mainstream society has been itself excluded as an institution with respect to implementation capacity. Steps have not as yet been taken to review the past capacity needs of the department to respond to present Social Protection concerns.
The Strategy therefore takes the auspicious step of making the first policy proposal for the transformation of the DSW into a Department for Social Development under the Ministry of Manpower. Youth and Employment. This is in recognition of the fact that Social Protection concerns are not simply welfare concerns but also social development concerns.
Additionally, existing interventions generally focus on offering social assistance to the poor with very limited emphasis on preventing livelihood decline. The importance of emphasizing a gradual shift towards the prevention of livelihood decline in the medium to long-term, as well as institutionalization of Social Protection measures, has become necessary. Furthermore, the need for the introduction of entirely new interventions in response to emerging Social Protection concerns has become even all the more imperative.
The Strategy provides the framework for Government and Civil Society to support the extremely poor to fulfill their fundamental human rights as endorsed by globally acclaimed human rights instruments in addition to other international and national. The elements of the Social Protection Strategy will effectively reduce extreme poverty among the most vulnerable and excluded and mitigate the effects of shocks to prevent a decline in their well being.
The Strategy thus serves as a ’spring board’ for moving people out of poverty, while addressing issues of rights, denials and abuse and promoting pro-poor growth. These are consistent with, and will contribute positively to, Ghana’s development goals as well as the MDGs and the targets of NHPAD.
The NSPS: Complementing
Ghana adopted the Millennium Declaration in 2002. which details EIGHT MDC ranging from halving global poverty by 2015 to enhancing global partnerships. Furthermore, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) targets are consistent with the MDGs in seeking to. among others, eradicate poverty in Africa and place the continent on the path towards sustainable economic growth and the empowerment of women.
Social grants or "cash transfer" schemes can play an important role in achieving the MDGs. Their rapid spread throughout Latin America, Southern Africa and parts of Asia is an indication of a growing consensus on the value of Social Grants in these regions in tackling both poverty and high levels of inequality.
Ghana must advance its progress towards achieving the MDGs and in particular MDG 1 (Income Poverty/Hunger) in order to achieve middle-income status by 2015. Evidence shows that various Social Grants programmes are resulting in sustainable impacts on hunger, indicating their potential to contribute to food security and the achievement of MDG 1. for example. 70% of Mexican households participating in the Progress Programme have shown improved nutritional status.
Programme impacts on stunted growth in children have also been impressive, with the growth rate among children aged 12-36 months increasing by one centimeter per child per year. In Ghana, the NSPS will support and complement the vision of the MDGs and the) NEPAD targets by reducing extreme poverty among targeted vulnerable and excluded groups and mitigate the effects of shocks to prevent a decline in socio-economic status via an innovative social grants programme.
To this end, Ghana’: NSPS Programme presents a distinctive approach to social development and i. founded the following core pillars:
- Pillar 1 - The NSPS seeks to complement of social grants to existing programmes for effective risk management and impact of poverty reduction programmes.
- Pillar 2 - The NSPS seeks to address the causes of poverty, and not simply its symptoms. Therefore, the programme acknowledges that the roots of poverty arc found in the multiple social risks faced by the poor, and in their vulnerability to the impact of these risks. By focusing on social risks, the NSPS addresses the dynamic nature of poverty.
- Pillar 3 - The NSPS seeks to develop the capacity of the poor to reduce, ameliorate, or cope with social risk and vulnerability through the LEAP Social Grants Programme. To this end, the NSPS draws particular attention to human capital investment, and more generally to productive investment as the fundamental keys to poverty reduction and pro-poor growth.
- Pillar 4 - The NSPS acknowledges the variety and heterogeneity of risks affecting individuals, households and communities, and especially in the case of Orphan, Vulnerable Children (OVCs), People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) and women. The NSPS therefore acknowledges the Multidimensional nature of poverty and its exacerbating and unique effects on various large! Groups.
- Pillar 5 - NSPS acknowledges die ’gender dimension’ associated with poverty, exclusion and vulnerability and therefore includes a gender-sensitive approach to its poverty reduction and social empowerment strategies.
- Pillar 6: The NSPS focuses on poverty reduction and livelihood Empowerment and on providing support to vulnerable and excluded groups.