On the 28th of June 2016, Oxfam in Ghana hosted a meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to provide inputs on their ‘Even it Up’ Campaign, addressing how best to fight inequality in Ghana.
Festus Akuetteh Ankrah, Keshia Osei-Kufuor and Andrew Ntiw were there.
By Festus Akuetteh Ankrah, Keshia Osei-Kufuor and Andrew Ntiw
The event was held at Mensvic Grand Hotel and ran for a total of three days. Representatives from IMANI Center for Policy and Education were present for the first day of the meeting.
Theme 1: Emerging Context
Presentation 1: An Overview of Ghana’s Long-Term Transformation Reducing poverty and Inequality – Mr. Richard TK, NDPC
It was stated that data and information are very important and powerful tools when managing the rising inequality in the country. This inequality has increased despite poverty levels decreasing over time. The NDPC, as part of their long-term development plan for Ghana, have five main goals in their framework:
- Create an equitable, healthy, disciplined society with opportunities for all
- Build an industrialised, inclusive and resilient economy with high levels of employment and decent work
- Build safe, well-planned and sustainable communities while protecting the natural environment
- Build effective, efficient and dynamic institutions for development
- Strengthen Ghana’s role in international affairs through cooperation with other nations
He also stated that the long-term plan would revolve around decentralised planning and monitoring and evaluation, with the district-level plans going into more detail.
Presentation 2: Tax Revenue and Social Spending in Ghana – Mr. Kwabena Gyan Kwakye, Ministry of Finance
Mr. Kwakye disclosed the amounts that the Government of Ghana (GoG) spend, as a percentage of GDP, on ten pro-poor areas of the economy, including education, primary healthcare, agriculture, power and roads. It was shown that the highest expenditures occurred in the mid-2000s before a decline. This was as a result of Ghana’s attainment of lower-middle income status, which decreased the number of grants received and is leading the GoG to depend more on internally generated funds. One of the challenges that the GSGDA II (Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda) has outlined is the need to target specific groups more as a way to address inequalities as regards to taxation, such as the need to address the increase of workers in the informal sector. Going forward, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection are developing the Social Protection Policy, which will be used in addition to the Ghana National Household Registry to improve internal resource mobilisation.
Presentation 3: Inequality in the Education Sector of Ghana – Mr. Festus Ankrah, the Head of the Social Policy Center, IMANI
The findings on the different types of inequality in all levels of education were discussed. This included gender inequality, spatial inequality and discrimination against people with disabilities. It was shown that gender parity tends to decrease moving through the levels of education, from Kindergarten through to Senior High School in terms of the access and quality of education. Moreover, data revealed there was great spatial inequality between the ten regions of Ghana. Some recommendations for addressing the inequalities included collecting credible data, to first of all highlight where inequalities were present, and to broaden the discussion of inequalities from just gender and spatial to other types, such as religious.
Presentation 4: Inequality in Health – Mr. Daniel Degbotse, Ministry of Health
It was argued that there was very little evidence backing policy. However, an intervention to combat this is the current review of the NHIS. Other interventions to address imbalances in the health sector include the training of primary care staff, an improvement in financial access and the provision of quality Close-to-Client services, such as the Community-Based Health Planning Services (CHPS). The regional disparities in health indicators, such as the nurse-to-population ratio were shown. Challenges in tackling inequalities were then discussed. These included the fact that some policies, such as free health care, may have unintended consequences on inequalities, and that some expenditure used to address inequalities, such as improving the quality of personnel, may not produce a measurable health gain.
Theme 2: Reflections from Experiences
Presentation 5: Experiences & Lessons from Universal Access to Health Campaign in Ghana (UAHCC) – Mr. Archibald Adams, UAHCC
Mr. Adams explained that the focus of the campaign was on using the NHIS as the method of achieving universal healthcare. He discussed that the campaign included the promotion of activities surrounding World Univeral Health Care (UHC) Day. He also stated that the campaign was using social media to engage with policymakers, networking with others, and completing analysis for the use of tracking.
Presentation 6: Experiences and Lessons in Budget and Expenditure Tracking in Health and Education – Mr. George Osei-Bimpeh, SEND Ghana
It was stated that the budget is the key to addressing inequality as it provides social accountability. It was also claimed that addressing inequality requires participation, robust inequality research and strategic communication. Mr. Osei-Bimpeh stressed the need for vertical integration, by way of thinking of a strategy to engage people at all levels of power, and the importance of NGOs and CSOs staying non-partisan.
Theme 3: Opportunities & Priorities
Attendees were separated into four groups, with two groups each discussing the following questions:
- What are the possible challenges with campaigning/advocacy/influencing work on inequality in Ghana?
- Identify key opportunities for a broad-based inequality campaign/advocacy/influencing work in Ghana
Some challenges raised from the first question included the need for credible current data, the lack of political will to implement recommendations, the attitude of service providers, and how to spread messages to those who are inaccessible.
For the second question posed, opportunities that were discussed centered around strong partnerships in the fight against inequality, particularly between the public and private sectors. In addition, participants discussed the needs for focused and data-driven research, along with the development of new resource pools to support ongoing anti-inequality measures.