- Lack of implementation of policies
- GH¢300m required annually to adequately protect children
The government’s record on the protection of children in the country is woeful, a group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), have noted and these NGOs are therefore urging the government to disburse allocated funds, increase the funding for protecting children and fully implement policies that have been adopted.
The NGOs, which participated in the 2010 Ghana NGO Forum held last year, noted that although a lot of work by the NGO sector and UNICEF in collaboration with teams from the various ministries have gone into various well-crafted and fully costed policies and plans for the protection of Ghana’s children they have lacked full and effective implementation.
“Ghana was the first country to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990. Nearly 30 years later, the Government of Ghana (GoG) still does not fully comply with what the Committee of the CRC has observed Ghana needs to do for vulnerable children, namely:
‘Prioritize and substantially increase the budgetary allocations in the social sectors, ensuring implementation of the economic, social and cultural rights of children, particularly for the improvement of health-care services, education and protection of vulnerable groups of children’,” a statement from the group noted.
Data screened through national, ministerial and agency budget show that in 2017, GH¢72.6million was allocated for child protection of which, shockingly, only 33.1percent was disbursed.
The government, according to the NGOs, has adopted, but not fully implemented, the Child and Family Welfare Policy, 2014; the Justice for Children Policy, 2015; the National Gender Policy, 2015; the Five Year, 2018-2022, Strategic Plan to prevent Adolescent Pregnancies; Ghana Family Planning Costing Implementation Plan, 2016 – 2020; and the National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage for 2017-2018 along with their costed operational plans.
“Equally, the Automated System for the Registration of Births and Deaths (SRBD) and the Care Reform Initiative need to be fully funded so that rollout can be completed,” the NGOs added.
To these NGOs, the budget required to bring child protection services in Ghana up to the minimum level demanded by the CRC is small compared to the budget required for children’s education, health and sanitation.
“These child protection allocations are critically important as they address the needs of the most vulnerable children, and the economic benefits of preventing abuse or addressing existing abuse are substantial. Typically, these budget allocations are spread across various ministries that deal with different aspects of child protection,” they added.
The NGOs therefore demanded that government increase the amount allocated to child protection for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and other relevant departments and agencies in subsequent budgets to an amount of approximately GH¢300m per year.
Also, they urged that the budget should subsequently be entirely disbursed to adequately fund and implement the existing plans and policies particularly in the key areas of Birth Registration, Alternative Care, Justice for Children, Child Marriage and Child Sexual and Reproductive Health.
2020 budget promises and actions for child protection
Meanwhile, in the 2020 budget presented to Parliament in November 2019, the government noted that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection would, in 2020, continue to comply with The Hague Adoption procedures.
The Ministry initiated the process to amend child-related legislation in line with international protocols, conventions and other child welfare policies. The amendments will be finalized by 2020. Ghana’s report on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child will be submitted to the United Nations in 2020.
The budget statement added that the ministry finalized and launched the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Standards for children 0-3 years to guide the stimulation and care of children.
The Ministry also intends to establish a Child Protection and Social Welfare Information Management System. In line with this, a needs assessment study in the mapping of services was conducted in 2019. An Inter-Sectoral Standard Operation Procedure (ISSOP) was developed to strengthen stakeholder case management coordination and collaboration.
In 2020, the Ministry will establish a functioning Child Protection and Social Welfare Information Management System to ease case management, referral and monitoring.
By: Bernard Yaw Ashiadey