As expected, several Side Events and Fringe Meetings at this year's United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF), were focused on the Implications of Covid-19 and Government responses! These were championed by diverse Interest Groups to share information or interrogate public policies, programmes and general governance practices in the context of Covid-19.
A critical message that gained preponderance in most of the sessions that I followed is that Governments, especially in Africa, were tending to mind more about their economic recovery to the neglect of Social Protection for the vulnerable populations!
It made me start reflecting a bit more on my own Country - Government of Ghana's Response Plan. I concluded, rightly or wrongly, that the general verdict did not apply in Ghana!
To be fair, the first line of policy response in Ghana's Covid-19 Alleviation Programme (CAP) was the aspect of SOCIAL PROTECTION which was supposed to be led by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development; and by extension the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs)!
So on the face on it, the policy articulation was clear; what remained to be seen is IMPLEMENTATION! It is important to mention quickly that the second aspect of the CAP was the Business Stimulus Support (BSS) under the ambit of the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI)!
To the best of my knowledge, the Covid-19 Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) comes last and is still being fashioned out! So on the basis of policy intention and relative to what is being reported generally about Governments in Africa, Ghana is perceived as a CREDIBLE PERFORMER! But the devil is always in the detail!
For instance, SEND Ghana's recent survey report on Public Perception on Government Covid-19 Policy Measures, point to grave issues of concern. Notably, the issue of coordination of effort by the respective MMDAs.
Caritas Ghana is also still putting together our comprehensive data from participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) by Interfaith Citizens Monitoring Teams in 16 MMDAs focusing on their implementation of the Social Protection Measures.
Early days yet to conclude, but preliminary findings even indicate that some of the MMDAs were UNAWARE of their roles in the Government Covid-19 Alleviation Programme (CAP)! So what is going on with IMPLEMENTATION of Public Policies even when they are so clearly articulated and documented???
Civil Society Organizations in Ghana have NOT been aloof at all, but we can still do more; especially in advocacy towards Government responsiveness! STAR Ghana Foundation facilitated the CSOs Covid-19 Coordination Platform and the virtual launch of it recently was very insightful!
The theme for the Platform launch "The Fight Against Covid-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities for Deepening Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness of Stakeholders" was not only apt but very creative for harnessing perspectives and ideas from very SOLID Civil Society Activists across Board.
Congratulations to STAR Ghana Foundation for this initiative and leadership!! As part of Caritas Ghana PM&E, we are also facilitating dialogue meetings with broad stakeholders from Government (MMDAs), Media, NGOs and Vulnerable Populations to discuss concretely how the Social Protection Measures of Government could better impact on the poor who are most affected by Covid-19!
The resettlement and reintegration of the KAYAYEE in their own communities in Northern Ghana while guaranteeing alternative and sustainable livelihoods for them, remains our primary concern.
In this regard, Caritas Ghana is happy to be partnering the African Development Organization on Migration (AFDOM) in Tamale, the Street Children Project (SCP) in Kumasi and Positive Action for Potter Girls - Madina to facilitate the processes.
Authored by: Samuel Zan Akologo, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, Caritas Ghana.
NOTE: Opinion expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the West Africa Civil Society Institute.