Moving towards an integrated social protection system: Reducing Poverty and Promoting Growth
By OFFEIBEA BADDOO
ACCRA, November 10, 2013 - On November 6, 2013, a high level panel discussion on Social protection and its role in Ghana was facilitated by UNICEF with the Government of Ghana. Stakeholders interested in tackling extreme poverty and vulnerabilities through social protection participated in a vibrant interactive discussion with panelists. The discussion was chaired by the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection and panelists included the Head of Budget Reform from the Ministry Of Finance, the UNICEF Representative and the European Union. UNICEF also led participants through the recent evaluation of the impact of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) cash transfer program in Ghana.
Ghana has shown serious commitment to reducing poverty and vulnerability by restructuring the Ministry of Women and Children into the Ministry of Children, Gender and Social Protection. Its new mandate adds to its responsibilities the coordination of social protection interventions across multiple implementing agencies. Despite Government’s commitment and the existence of a National Social Protection Strategy, many challenges remain. A major challenge is the lack of an institutional and legal framework to coordinate and oversee implementation, as well as monitor and evaluate impacts of social protection programmes in Ghana.
The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection was candid when she conceded that the were challenges in moving towards an integrated social protection system, although highlighting that the lives of the poorest are already improving due to programs like LEAP. UNICEF led participants through the findings of the impact evaluation of the LEAP program and confirmed the Minister’s optimism that indeed Ghana’s flag ship program is transforming the lives of beneficiaries. The results, (produced through work with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research in collaboration with YALE University, University of California and University of North Carolina) provided the evidence that LEAP was enhancing school enrollment, improving the health needs of beneficiaries, enhancing the nutritional intake of beneficiaries as well as boosting the growth of the local economy.
A vibrant interactive discussion among stakeholders who participated in the panel event concluded that the poorest would be best served if social protection was developed into a comprehensive system of coordinated and complementary interventions that can both support poverty reduction and economic growth. Susan Ngongi, UNICEF Representative, recommended that a scale up of these interventions were imperative but that an overarching National policy on Social Protection with a solid legal framework and sustainable national financing would be required.
To support knowledge sharing on social protection, UNICEF Ghana also used the event to launch its new Briefing Series on social protection, which can be found on our website: http://www.unicef.org/ghana/resources_7765.html
LEAP evaluation explained
Summary of findings from evaluations of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty program.