LEAP Coverage Of Children Drops 24%

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF have stated that the coverage of children (0-17 years) under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) Programme has dropped by 24 per cent.

According to a report by the two organisations, ‘More than a billion reasons: The urgent need to build universal social protection for children’ the number of children covered under the programme has reduced from 695,000 to 528,000 (2020 to 2022) despite the increasing percentage of the population in that age bracket.

It indicated that prior to COVID-19, one-in-three children in Ghana already lived below the monetary poverty line, and three-in-four children were multi-dimensionally poor[1].

“Two-thirds (68.2%) of households indicate that their income has not recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels. Children staying at home and the re-prioritization of support services in key sectors have also compounded the various risks children face in critical periods of their development,” it said.

The two organisations raised concern over the increasing number of children without access to social protection adding that the situation is leaving children at risk of poverty, hunger and discrimination.

“Failure to provide children with adequate social protection leaves them vulnerable to poverty, disease, missed education, and poor nutrition, and increases their risk of child marriage and child labour,” it said.

To reverse the negative trend, the ILO and UNICEF have urged policymakers to take gradual steps towards universal social protection for children from most vulnerable households.

“Investing in child benefits which offer a proven and cost-effective way to combat child poverty and ensure children thrive. Allow LEAP eligibility to widen coverage to include families with children at risk of separation and migrant children so they can be connected to crucial health and social services in addition to the cash grant,” it stated.

The organisations also called for the passage of the Social Protection Bill to give legal backing and further structure to the mobilization and disbursement of funds for identified vulnerable population including children.

They also want the government to build social protection systems that are rights-based, gender-responsive, inclusive, and shock responsive to address inequities and deliver better results for girls and women, migrant children, and children in child labour for example.

“As families face increasing economic hardship, food insecurity, conflict, and climate-related disasters, universal child benefits can be a lifeline,” said Natalia Winder-Rossi, UNICEF Director of Social Policy and Social Protection. “There is an urgent need to strengthen, expand and invest in child-friendly and shock-responsive social protection systems. This is essential to protect children from living in poverty and increase resilience particularly among the poorest households.”

“Ultimately, strengthened efforts to ensure adequate investment in universal social protection for children, ideally through universal child benefits to support families at all times, is the ethical and rational choice, and the one that paves the way to sustainable development and social justice,” said ShahraRazavi, Director of the Social Protection Department at the ILO.

SOurce: DGN


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.