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Re: Social protection to protect and promote nutrition

Anna Antwi GD Resource Center (development NGO), Ghana
04.07.2013
Anna

I have few comments to add to the Social Protection if it is not too late:

Main issues:

Targeting to the most vulnerable population: these are children under 5 years, orphans, women in reproductive age, elderly, people living with disability (socially and physically), HIV and farmers/ fishers

In protecting the vulnerable, it is important to include the very people who depend on the environment or natural resources for their livelihoods: farmers/ fisher folk; herders/ pastoralists and rural poor mostly women and forest dwellers. Women of reproductive age and children are mostly affected by under-nutrition.

Women are also the primary care givers at the household and community levels and therefore need to be empowered. Free mosquito nets should be distributed to pregnant women, and dewormers giving to all children and women in reproductive age. Direct cash transfers alone may not always be the best, in addition, the poor households should be educated on the use of the cash transfers and the importance of nutrition for getting the household or family out of poverty. Vouchers could be given for the people to purchase essential food commodities from certain points.  Schools enrolment and retention should be enforced for all children of school going age; and hot nutritious meals provided to the children. Such poor households should receive free medical care. Education on personal hygiene and nutrition should be given. Communities should also enforce construction of household latrines/ toilets. The social protection should also include/ cover good portable drinking water.

There is the need for entrepreneurship training for both on-farm and off-farm work, and funds allocated for the poor and vulnerable to engage in Income generating activities (IGAs). Planting materials/ stock should be provided as a start up together with other inputs. The On-farm could be crops and/ or animals especially small ruminants, and the off-farm could also be non-traditional farming : snail and grasscutter rearing, mushroom cultivation and other IGAs like basket/ mat weaving etc must be encouraged.

Supply of Basic needs: In addition to the cash transfer, food vouchers could be provided to be redeemed at designated shops or centers. Children should be enrolled in schools. People registered to receive special social protection should be registered for free medical attention and provided with cards. In addition, they should have access to energy and clean water sources.

Key institutional and governance challenges:

  1. Coordination and harmonization, and alignment of programs across sectors is a challenge and so is
  2.  Monitoring and evaluation of the programs and activities of the various sectors involved in policy development or program implementation.
  3. Data collection to support decision making is also a problem and where they are available, they are not usally sex disaggregated
  4. The process of targeting and selection of people to benefit from social protection is normally not Transparent, and the people involved hardly account unless there are mechanisms in place

Best Practices and lessons learnt:

  • Working group made up of all relevant sectors such as Agriculture, Health, Education, Gender and children, Trade and Industries, Academia/ Research, Finance and Economic Planning, CSOs: NGOs, private sector, Trade Union should be set up to brain storm, discuss and ensure implementation of cross-sectoral program
  • Intuitional capacity needs to be built
  • Institutions need to develop plan of action for nutrition and a
  • Committee of experts from relevant sectors to monitor targeting, funds and mechanisms for implementation to ensure common targeting, transparency and accountability in the process