The government has been urged to establish a dedicated fund for social protection to ensure the financial sustainability of such initiatives for the benefit of the poor and vulnerable in society.
It has further been urged to increase social protection spending as well as strengthen social protection budget execution and our credibility and ensure timely release of funds.
These formed part of the recommendations of the Citizens Assessment of Social Protection Delivery in Ghana: CSOs Social Protection Mirror Report 2021, which was launched in Tamale.
The Mirror Report 2021 was a complementary report to the official government report on social protection delivery with the view to promote mutual accountability in the implementation of social protection interventions.
It tracked the performance of social protection initiatives and shared information on initiatives that had been introduced and how they had been received by the citizenry and intended beneficiaries.
The respondents were made up of all beneficiaries/community members in the country, who one way or the other, enjoyed any of the social protection interventions such as LEAP, Labour Intensive Public Works (LIPW), Capitation Grant (CG), Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Programme officials from the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) were also interviewed.
In all, a total of 1,496 respondents took part in the study out of which 198 (13.2 %) responded on the LEAP, 201 (13.4%) on LIPW, 301 (20.1%) on CG, 447 (29.9%) on GSFP, and 349 (23.2%) on NHIS.
The Mirror Report 2021 was commissioned by the Civil Society Partnership for Social Accountability in Social Protection and supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
It found that inadequate budgetary allocation had been a major factor hampering the smooth implementation of social protection programmes in the country as the country spent less than 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on social protection, which was far less than 2.2% of GDP regional average for sub-Saharan Africa.
It also found that the huge variations between approved programme budget allocations and disbursements were evidence that social protection budget planning and execution was a challenge.
The Report, therefore, called on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to fast-track the completion of the Social Protection Bill to be submitted to Parliament for passage to make social protection binding on the government.
It also called on the government to consider increasing cash grants and allowances to beneficiaries in view of the current inflationary pressures.
Christiana Gbedemah, Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF Ghana expressed the need for the government to accelerate social interventions through increased spending to help reduce poverty in the country.
Madam Joyce Kulevo, Northern Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare, whose speech was read on her behalf, acknowledged the delays in the payment of LEAP to beneficiaries, calling on MMDAs to factor social protection into the preparation of their Medium-Term Development Plans to improve delivery to beneficiaries.
Mr Mohammed Mumuni, Northern Regional Programmes Manager of SEND GHANA called on CSOs and other stakeholders to advocate the passage of the Social Protection Bill into law to make delivery of social protection binding on the government to prioritise the sector with funds, which would be released on time.