Statement at the UN High Level on Polical Forum on Sustainable Development
Ladies and Gentlemen
All protocol observed,
I am honored to be a part of this year’s United Nations high-level political Forum on sustainable development which seeks to discuss how to achieve a sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly amongst the most vulnerable to enable us achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Indeed, there has not been a better time like this for all stakeholders to be involved in a discourse to ensuring that No One is Left Behind during the recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The emergence of COVID-19 took the world by surprise with no one prepared on how to address it. It also negatively affected us all, particularly our collective effort in the implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Ghana recorded its first Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) case on Thursday, March 1, 2020. The number has since then increased to a total of 95,914 infected cases, out of which 796 has lost their lives whilst 93,444 have recovered (as at 4th July, 2021). Currently, the active cases stand at 1,674 (0.01%) out of the 11,578,061 global active cases.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana has negatively impacted on the socio-economic lives of the vulnerable and also, affected progress made towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 “No Poverty” and “Zero Hunger” respectively. Key among them are;
- The economic hardship experienced by families which resulted in incidence of child malnutrition especially in poor communities that are supported by the social intervention programmes such as the Ghana School Feeding Programme. Beneficiaries of the programme were not able to benefit from the one hot nutritious meal per every school going day when the schools were closed.
- The COVID-19 Pandemic also affected another government flagship programme known as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme which seeks to reduce poverty by providing social cash grants to the extremely poor and vulnerable households. Due to adherence to the COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing, lockdowns and physical contact affected the disbursement of cash grants to LEAP beneficiary households, since the mode of disbursement required some level of aggregation of beneficiaries at a collection point and physical contact between participating financial institutions and beneficiary households.
Ghana has been making all the necessary efforts to achieve the SDGs as well as mitigate the negative social and economic impact on the lives of the extreme poor and vulnerable to ensure that no one is left behind.
Ghana through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has instituted measures to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 world crisis on the vulnerable. These are;
- The Ministry provided support to the extreme poor and other vulnerable groups with emergency social protection assistance such as stipends and in-kind transfers such as food to complement existing COVID-19 protocols as part of efforts to combat the pandemic during the partial lockdown period.
- The Ministry is currently working with Development Partners to develop and implement an Emergency Response Social Protection Framework to address the negative impact of the CODVID-19 pandemic on all vulnerable groups.
- The Ministry through the Ghana National Household Registry (GNHR) is collecting data on vulnerable people in the country for easy tracking to ensure that, the vulnerable is not left behind. So far, data collection in five out of sixteen regions has been completed.
- To help in the fight against COVID-19 and better protect our children, the Ministry has trained traditional and religious leaders from Six (6) regions on COVID-19 and Child Protection.
- In collaboration with Food and Drugs Authority, the Ministry produced and distributed sixteen thousand (16,000) bottles of hand sanitizers to head porters (Kayaye), street persons and identified vulnerable groups, widow’s association, veteran’s association, Help Line of Hope callers, Children Homes, Foster parents and Security Agencies.
- The Ministry with funding from the Ministry of Finance provided over 2,750,000 packs of cooked food to the vulnerable and marginalised group during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. In addition, dry rations were provided to households to cushion their consumption during the lockdown period.
- The Ministry provided temporary and safe shelter to 380 head porters (kayayei) and their 25 children to enable them to adhere to the partial lockdown directive as well as protect them from contracting the virus.
- As part of measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, 584,000 final year JHS students and 146,000 staff in all public and private schools across the country were provided with one hot locally made nutritious meal a day to prevent hunger and enable the students prepare and write their final exams.
The MoGCSP has outlined the following measures to mitigate any negative impact of COVID-19 on the lives of the vulnerable;
- Increase education and sensitization in local languages on the use of PPEs and personal hygiene for market women and other vulnerable groups.
- Continue to sensitize the public especially adolescents on issues of adolescent pregnancy during these difficult times.
- Set-up a database to capture data on issues of child marriages and domestic violence in order to inform decision making by policy makers and other relevant institutions.
- Revise the celebration of calendar day events to include messages on COVID-19 prevention and advocacy towards child friendly initiatives for the protection of children during the pandemic.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is our hope that the outcome of this meeting will point us to gaps we have not been able to identify as well as suggest new approaches to addressing the negative impact of COVID-19 global pandemic on the vulnerable population.
Beyond this meeting, our doors are open for any further engagements to promote the agenda working for the vulnerable to ensure that they are not left behind.
I wish you all a very fruitful and engaging meeting.
Thank you for your attention.