The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Thursday launched Ghana’s Multidimensional Child Poverty Report and called for a more passionate commitment towards child welfare.
Expressing her passion towards the welfare and development of all children, the First Lady said being more committed to children would help in laying the foundation for developing skilled, productive and responsible citizens for the future.
The 107-page Report, among others, revealed that 73.4 per cent of children in Ghana are multi-dimensionally poor while only 2.5 per cent are without any deprivation.
Also, the vast majority of children face multiple deprivation in at least three out of four of the eight dimensions, namely; nutrition, health, learning, protection, water, sanitation, housing and information.
Child poverty is measured using the dimensions of the well-being that reflects the needs and rights of Ghanaian children, the report indicated.
It, therefore, recommended the need for multi-sectoral responses and coordination that allows for more synergy in the national response to child poverty.
The child poverty analysis Report was put together by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the Ghana Statistical Service, and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in collaboration with UNICEF.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said every child deserved to have access to good nurturing, nutrition, health, education, water, sanitation and general wellbeing.
“These are all critical building blocks for child development, without which we cannot derive the expected dividend in our human development. We need to deal with inequality from its roots”.
She said the country had long identified child poverty as a problem but the Report had finally provided the empirical basis to generate meaningful discussions and solutions to child poverty.
It also provides the foundation for discussing child poverty, which, unfortunately, had not received enough policy attention in the national conversations on poverty and inequalities.
“Again, by focusing on the multiple dimensions of poverty, including its spatial distribution, the Report provides the opportunity for more precise sector specific interventions as well as a baseline for measuring future progress.”
The First Lady said she was particularly happy that the document also focused on child malnutrition, “an area I have been championing at both the local and continental levels.”
She called for the investment in child nutrition to serve as a foundation for the development of a child’s cognitive abilities, which, in turn, would determine their learning outcomes, income and health status as adults.
“It is the most single, critical investment, which has long-term impacts on a child’s long-term development.”
Mrs Akufo-Addo also emphasised the need for a multi-sectoral action plan, effective coordination and results framework, adding that adopting that approach would provide the foundation for tracking the progress of set target of reducing child poverty by half, from 73 per cent to 37 per cent by 2030.
Dr Kodjo Mensah-Abrampa, the Director-General of the NDPC, said the purpose of the study was to help understand the complexity of child poverty in Ghana by investigating children’s access to various goods and services crucial for their long-term development.
He said to help reduce poverty, there was the need to invest in Ghana’s youthful populations and lauded the Free Compulsory Basic Education, the Free SHS Policy and the Free Mental Health Care, as they were all key tools in reducing poverty levels.
Ms Anne-Claire Dufay, the UNICEF Country Representative, said the Report would be a useful source of data and evidence for advocacy and policy making, while serving as a good reference for many sectors to become better informed of the multiple facets of child poverty in Ghana.
In 2019, UNICEF supported 74 countries to conduct measurement in relation to monetary child poverty while 55 countries analysed multidimensional child poverty, she noted.
In more than 22 of the countries, such efforts and analysis have led to development of evidence-based policies and programmes, aimed at reducing child poverty.
Ms Dufay said the launch of Ghana’s Child Poverty Report showed that the country had much interest in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 1, the target that sought to reduce multidimensional poverty by 2030 to 36.7 per cent.