Since independence, successive Ghanaian governments have prioritised the welfare of Ghanaian citizens in their governance strategies. The challenge has been the translation of political intentions to the development and implementation of concrete social welfare policies that improve the lives of those most in need.
This study of the political economy of social protection policy uptake in Ghana was guided by two broad questions: 1) How do political, economic, social, historical and institutional factors and actors support the drive for or resistance to social protection policy uptake in Ghana? and 2) What are the broader policy implications for the current drive, spearheaded by donors and the African Union, towards social protection policies and programmes?
A mixed method approach to data collection was employed that included a desk review, interviews with experts in social policy, a qualitative study of an urban poor community which benefits from Ghana’s flagship social protection programme (the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty–LEAP), and engagement with proceedings of social protection working groups. The results suggest that there is political will and commitment across a comprehensive range of social policy actors, both governmental and non-governmental, to maintain and scale up the current strategy on social protection. However, current social protection initiatives reach a minority of potential beneficiaries due to limited funding and poor targeting. Donor partners continue to provide a significant proportion of funding for social protection initiatives, although a general freeze on donor support due to Ghana’s current economic crisis may affect funding commitments in the short and medium terms. We recommend greater investment in building the capacity of the public sector to target, implement, monitor and evaluate social protection programmes more appropriately and efficiently and the active inclusion of local CSOs and academic experts as technical support, if social protection is to benefit the most vulnerable.
Key words: political economy, social protection, Ghana