The population and development debate that gained ascendency in the second half of the 20th century which necessitated various international conferences on population in that period led to many nations taking steps to address population issues in their countries which when addressed in the country affect their development (Kwankye & Cofie, 2015). In Africa, one of the measures some countries took to address population and development issues during that period was the adoption of a comprehensive population policy. Mauritius, Kenya and, Ghana were the earliest countries to adopt population policies in 1958, 1967, and 1969 respectively. Ghana since the 1969 policy has seen a revision of it in 1994 to co-opt new trends and also revise targets and objectives. In this write up, the 1994 revised edition of the National Population Policy of Ghana would be reviewed, discussing its origin, relevance due to current state, its development process using the policy triangle and, then looking at lessons policymakers can learn from and some barriers that hamper the implementation of the policy.
Before the development of the first policy on population in Ghana, Ghana has been seen as one of the countries supporting population issues. This is evidenced in the 1962-63 sponsorship of the Population growth and economic development resolution at the United Nations and later in 1967 becoming the first sub-Saharan country to sign the World leaders Declaration on Population (Ghana National Population Council, 1994)(Soares, 2013). However, the failure of the 1969.
National Population Policy titled “Population Planning for National Progress and Prosperity” (Republic of Ghana, 1969) to achieve its target made it clear there was a need for a new policy. The country was either to abolish the policy for a completely new one or to revise the first policy, the latter was chosen. Aside, the failure of the previous policy there was a need to incorporate new phenomenon which has population impart like Human Immune Virus (H.I.V), environmental issues, aged people as well as persons living with disabilities (PWDs). These and many other factors such as the setting up of the Population Policy Implementation and Assessment Committee (PPLAC) in 1989 (Ghana National Population Council, 2019) marked the beginning of the revised edition of the population policy of Ghana.
Currently as far as the country is concerned the 1994 revised edition of the National Population.
Policy of Ghana is the functional population policy that is guiding all population decisions in the country. The resource allocation from the government through its various agencies for the day-today running of the National population Council suggests that the policy is still functional, as to if the functionality is consistent with the population needs of the country leaves much to be desired. Again, the relevance of the National population policy of Ghana in this contemporary time (refers to dates after 2010) remains theoretical since it covers relevant population issues and the vehicles through which they would be achieved. Examples of its desire to engage traditional leaders and outlined strategies for its implementation highlight the relevance of the theory. However, the relevance in terms of its impact on the population to spike behavioural change remains a problem because targets for relevant indicators have not been met. For instance, the total fertility rate (TFR) target in the policy was to reach 3.0 in 2020 but by the close of 2020, the TFR of Ghana was 3.9 (Population Reference Bureau, 2013). The target for infant mortality rate (IMR) for 2020 was 22 deaths per 1000 women however by the close of 2020 the IMR of Ghana was 37 deaths per 1000 women, which was close to the target for 2005 (44 deaths per 1000 women in 2005), if this is anything to go by then the country is 15 years behind in achieving this target.
The process leading to the revision of the 1969 policy can be traced to the work of PPLAC which was to coordinate the activities of population in the country. They started the process of consultation and consensus-building toward the revision of the 1969 policy. PPLAC was later replaced by the National Population Council (NPC) after the passing into law its bill in 1992. The government was involved in the 1994 policy through the NPC, its legislature, ministry, and other agencies. These were to provide the legal, structural and financial support to achieve the interest of the government of improving population-related indicators. Other actors on the policy were the International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs), local Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some donors. Traditional leaders were also part of the actors since there were the traditional authorities to the people. The process to develop this policy started earlier and involved constant consultation and consensus-building from all actors. The process involved educating the population about population issues and traditional leaders to come to an understanding of their role in the process while other stakeholders were also educated. The content of the policy involved objectives, targets, implementation strategies, and others. The policy has a national, regional, and district contexts. That is, the policy is a national policy but would be implemented in the regions and districts by the various agencies and institutions in these places. The national strata play the supervisory role even though some international organizations or NGOs play that watchdog role.
At the district level space is created for involving traditional leaders.
Just like the 1969 policy faced barriers that made it difficult for it to achieve its targets, the 1994 revised edition has also faced some barriers in these 27years of its existence. One of such barriers is the cultural barrier to issues of fertility. Ghana just like most African countries is a pronatalist society hence despite the progress made in our contraceptive prevalence it is still held back by beliefs against it. This negatively affects the policy since it causes the population to increase. Political and Donor interference, the fact that the NPC depends on donor and the government to run, there have been instances of no political will to prosecute an agenda or political interference when a move from NPC doesn't sit well with the government. Donors also have their motives for donating hence they tend to interfere in the implementation process if it does not help achieve their motives and goals. Also, it is a big barrier not to have the Gender Ministry on the composition of the council of the NPC since they are directly involved with the population that play a major part in increasing population.
These barriers would teach us that there are lessons to be learned by policymakers to consider them in their policymaking to make more impacts and achieve more targets in subsequent policies. One of the lessons that can be learned is that there must be timelines to population policies like the censuses so that the policies would be reviewed or revised regularly to reflect the prevailing circumstance of population and demographic issues. It must be learned that it is not enough to have the policy but more effort and resources should be directed to educating and motivating the population for them to practice lifestyles that help improve population indices in the country. For example, contraceptives can be made free at health facilities to motivate people to use them. In the education of the people, there should be diversification of communication to explore other forms of communications such as social media either than the traditional media.
In a tone of finality, it has become apparent that despite the theoretical relevance of the 1994 revised edition of the National Population policy in Ghana its impact has not been as anticipated. The barriers discussed above and many other things have played a role in that. It is also clear that after 27 years of being in existence there is a need for another revision since there was been new trends of demographic issues that need to be considered, one clear example is the issue of LGBT since it has a place in affecting the population increase or decrease.
- Ghana National Population Council. (1994). GOVERNMENT OF GHANA NATIONAL POPULATION POLICY (Revised Edition, 1994). 10.
- Ghana National Population Council. (2019). History of NPC – National Population
- Kwankye, S. O., & Cofie, E. (2015). Ghana’s population policy implementation: Past, present and future. Etude de La Population Africaine, 29(2), 1734–1748.
- Population Reference Bureau. (2013). World Population Data Sheet 2013. 10–11.
- Republic of Ghana. (1969). Population Planning for National Progress and Prosperity - Ghana Population Policy. Accra, Ghana.
- Soares, A. P. (2013). Studies in Family Planning Ghana: Official Policy Statement.
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