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Govt broadens social intervention programmes - Prof. Gyan-Baffour declares at UN

BY: News Desk Report
Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, presenting the report
Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, presenting the report

The government is pursuing broad and inclusive social development policies to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ghanaians, the Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, has said.

The policies, he said, were captured in areas including health, employment, education, economy, youth and children development, disability groups, gender empowerment, water and sanitation.

Prof. Gyan-Baffour said this when he presented Ghana’s second Voluntary National Review (VNR) report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the 2022 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) of the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on July 12, this year.

Published by the NDPC, the VNR seeks to facilitate the sharing of experiences and mutual learning, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the SDGs.

2nd Report

The 2022 VNR report, which drew on lessons from the first VNR submitted in 2019, took advantage of Ghana’s well-established multi-partnership mechanisms to ensure an open, inclusive, transparent and active engagement with stakeholders.

The innovative use of social media and online meeting platforms enhanced the scope of engagement, especially among the youth and development partners.

A rapid assessment was conducted to gain further insight into development issues, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and early results from the government’s response measures.

Combating pandemic

Prof. Gyan-Baffour said Ghana, like other countries, had witnessed the pandemic significantly eroding some of the development gains made over the last decade.

“The proportion of the poor is estimated to have increased to 25.5 per cent in 2020, after decades of consistent decline. This was largely due to the scaling-down of economic activities, largely due to the pandemic,” he said.

Nonetheless, he said, over the period, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had publicly emphasised the government’s resolve to halt the pandemic and build a better future for the country.

He mentioned key measures instituted by the government to mitigate the shock to include the Ghana CARES Programme and the YouStart Initiative.

“Results of recent COVID-19 tracker surveys show these actions are having the right effect. The government’s stimulus package to businesses led to an increase in firm sales by 11.5 per cent, with small firms benefitting the most at 22 per cent. Households with reduced incomes saw a reduction from 77.4 per cent to 65.9 per cent from June to September 2020,” he added.

Prof. Gyan-Baffour said the improving trend on skilled birth coverage was reversed in 2020, recording about a one percentage point decline.

He also indicated that the expansion of medical drone delivery services was leveraging technology to eliminate stock outs and cold chain breakages, while accelerating emergency response to hard-to-reach areas.

Quality education

Prof. Gyan-Baffour said the pandemic had contributed to a declining net enrolment ratio at all levels of education, with the largest drop at the kindergarten level, recording a decline from 71.4 per cent in 2019 to 49.5 per cent in 2020.

To improve the teaching and learning experience, he said, many schools experienced an increase in the provision of basic services, such as toilet, water and electricity services, in 2020.

He said since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, improvement had been recorded in children who engaged in any type of learning activity – increasing from 62.2 per cent to 71.3 per cent from June to September 2020.

Internet usage

Another positive impact of the pandemic, he said, was an improvement in broadband subscriptions, as many businesses and people resorted to online platforms.

“Despite COVID-19, Ghana continued to report improvement in remittance

“The use of the internet has increased by about 10-fold over a decade, reaching 80.6 per cent of the population and bringing the people closer to a modern world. This provides an enabling environment for the digitalisation agenda of the government as a means of mitigating the impact of COVID-19,” he said.

Prof. Gyan-Baffour said the country had, over the years, combatted illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, in line with international laws.

“Ghana was placed in Band 5 – the highest level of FAO assessment in 2020, signifying the effective implementation of instruments to combat IUU fishing.

“The capacity for recycling requires significant improvement. Despite the surge in the establishment of waste recycling plants, these could only recycle about 10 per cent of plastic waste generated annually,” he said.

Key lessons

He said the achievements and progress made had been accompanied by key lessons, which would inform renewed efforts towards scaling up sustainable solutions.

The lessons, he said, included forging multi-stakeholder partnerships for innovation and resource mobilisation, ensuring an effective link between planning and resource allocation, making quality data available and coordinating the UN Country Team support

Critical issues

Prof. Gyan-Baffour said to strive for a world of sustainable prosperity, social inclusion and equality, while at the same time preserving the planet and leaving no one behind, there had to be four issues that constituted fundamental means of implementation --- better alignment of planning and budgeting processes for the SDGs, expanding innovative financing arrangements, strengthening and broadening partnerships to address the $43 billion annual financing gap of the SDGs and leveraging technology to improve data and reporting on the SDGs implementation.