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10.08.2004 General News

NDPC solicit expert opinion

By GNA

Accra, Aug. 10, GNA - The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has started a series of workshops to solicit expert opinion for the establishment of a Social Protection Strategy to protect the most vulnerable in society.

The first of the workshops, under the theme: "Vulnerability, Exclusion and Protection" was held in Accra on Tuesday to among other things, review existing information on Social Protection and to put in mechanisms that would assist the extremely poor to secure their livelihood.

About 85 participants are attending from the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Ministry of Finance, British Department For International Development (DFID) and the NDPC.

Social Protection is public action taken in response to levels of vulnerability, risk and deprivation, which are deemed socially unacceptable within a given polity or society.

Mrs Angela Ofori-Atta, Deputy Minister of Manpower Development and Employment, said the need for social protection for disadvantaged citizens was long overdue and a great concern to government.

She said the issues of vulnerability and exclusion were not adequately addressed in the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) adding that it was important to tackle vulnerability in order to prevent people from falling into poverty and to assist the extreme poor.

Mrs Ofori-Atta noted that obstacles including market failure, external economic shocks and cultural practices had the tendency to marginalize people and said there was the need for the Government to pre-empt and provide a soft landing for such victims through a viable economic and social policy.

She said social protection actions needed not be only handouts but efforts must be made to sustain the assistance provided.

Professor George Gyan-Baffuor, Director General of NDPC, said the national agenda on poverty reduction must focus on the vulnerable, which constituted a large proportion of the population.

He said the workshop was to bring to the fore, the concerns of the vulnerable to be mainstreamed into Government policies and called on participants to come up with comprehensive and relevant strategies.

Mrs Mercy Ackumey, a Researcher from the Centre for Social Policy Studies (CSPS), who gave an overview of the current situation and gaps in social protection in Ghana, said 8.2 per cent of the population were unemployed.

She said the Ministry of Employment and Manpower Development intended to equip about 23,000 people with skills to make them self-employed.

She mentioned the lack of youth policy framework; early warning against disasters; women's access to technical know-how; access to social services by persons with disability and weak agricultural infrastructure as issues that impeded the well being of the vulnerable.

Mr Bennet Kpentey, Chief Executive Officer of Sync Consult, an Accra consulting firm, said social protection sought to enable people to take control over their own livelihoods and achieve their human rights.

He said two kinds of social protection measures; social assistance and social insurance were necessary and these must complement each other in order to achieve better social protection strategy for the country.

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