By Damian Avevor, Accra To uphold the principle of leaving no one behind in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Caritas Ghana,
By Damian Avevor, Accra
To uphold the principle of leaving no one behind in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Caritas Ghana, a charity organization of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has launched an SDGs Assessment Report on government’s ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme and how it contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 2 as well as the Agenda 2030 principle of “Ensure no one is left behind”.
According to Mr. Samuel Zan Akologo, the Executive Secretary of Caritas Ghana at the launch July 4 at the National Catholic Secretariat, the Policy advocacy towards the common good is one of the core mandate of Caritas Ghana, and in pursuit of this mandate, Caritas Ghana undertook an assessment on Planting for food and Jobs, which is one of the flagship programmes of Government.
He said the policy was found to be relevant in terms of responding to some of the priority concerns of smallholder farmers as well as being aligned to SDG 2 and other continental, regional and national policies.
“The programme was also found to be on track towards achieving the intended objectives, with an overall performance of 75%. Twenty-eight (28) out of the forty (40) performance indicator targets set for 2017 were fully achieved,” he stressed.
He, however, pointed out that “the programme does not consciously promote sustainable agricultural practices as envisaged under SDG 2. Additionally, the case study at Mion district points to weak targeting and inclusiveness of vulnerable groups in the programme, in line with the SDG principle of “Leave no one behind”. For example, the case study in Mion district revealed that only 14 out of 916 beneficiaries of PFJs in three popular crops in 2017 were female, representing 1.5%.”
He noted that the SDG Principle of “Ensure no one is left behind” was found is reflected in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, thereby creating a general commitment to the principle years before it took centre stage under the SDGs in 2015.
However, he stated that the depth of knowledge of the principle and how to effectively operationalize it is low among government workers and the general public. Even though a number of pro-poor policies and programmes have been undertaken in Ghana, over the years, these were not consciously linked to the principle of “Ensure no one is left behind”.
He enumerated some of these programmes being implemented by various government agencies with varying degrees of success include: Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP); School Feeding Programme, Support for Street Children, Support to People with Disability, Vocational and Technical Training of some Unemployed Youth and Free Senior High School (SHS).
Dilating on the Report, he said more specifically, the findings are intended to be used by Caritas Ghana to craft strategies that can increase the awareness and participation of citizens in the implementation of the SDGs in Ghana.
The findings, he indicated will also provide a basis for more fruitful policy dialogue with the appropriate authorities towards accelerated and inclusive development. This is particularly relevant to the general Follow-up and Review mechanisms for the implementation of the SDGs. The work could also feed into Ghana’s Voluntary Review processes towards the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) this July, 2019 and in subsequent years, he added.
The Executive Secretary called for special targeting of vulnerable groups like women and youth in the country, saying that this may require partnership with some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who are closer to these vulnerable groups to mobilize them and help them overcome any entry barriers and take advantage of such government opportunities.
“There is the need for government to invest in research institutions like Crop Research Institute to develop improved seeds that are adapted to our local situations, rather than the current practice of importing most of the certified seeds,” Mr. Akologo indicated.
He added that “It is even possible to bring seed production closer to farmers by encouraging and supporting local farmers to specialize in seed production as their main agricultural venture. Such approaches will enhance seed sovereignty of smallholder farmers.”
Mr. Akologo declared: “To achieve this there is need for government to engage research, possibly on contractual basis, to specifically come out with effective and less labour intensive methods of decomposing farm residue into manure that can then be incorporated into the soil. Integration of livestock with crop farming will also help generate farm yard manure to fertilize the soil.”
Dr. Kodjo Mensah Abrampa, the Technical advisor to the Minister for Planning, who was the Guest speaker at the report launch, commended Caritas Ghana for its effort in carrying out an independent assessment of SDG implementation programmes.
He said government’s flagship programmes such as Planting for Food and Jobs, One-village One-Dam, One-District One-Factory, and the Free Senior High School are strategic policies implemented to realize the national vision of ‘ensuring no one is left behind’.
He also stressed that education of young people is at the heart of government’s development agenda since education can transform the population into a productive asset for Ghana. “Government believes that the youth is the biggest dividend of Ghana. In fact, the bulging youth of Africa is a democratic dividend we must be proud of.”
“The youth is an asset to Ghana’s development and the only thing left for us to do is to provide the needed knowledge and skills for them to utilize and contribute to Ghana’s development,” he opined.