The 3rd edition of the Ghana Social Development Outlook (GSDO), a document which examines the progress, prospects and challenges of social development in Ghana, and offers policy prescriptions across various social sectors, has been launched in Accra.


GSDO has been produced every two years, since 2012, by the Social Division of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, as a flagship evidence-based research and analysis document.  


Thematic areas addressed in GSDO 2016 are health, education, employment, housing, governance, water and sanitation, energy and environment, while a number of chapters have been devoted to discuss the legacy of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on various dimensions of social development policy and practice in Ghana and looks ahead to what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) might mean for the country.


The report gave a number of recommendations on the thematic areas to help address the challenges militating against the growth of those aspects of social development.


On education, the Report urged Government to pay attention to tertiary education as well as to quality education as measured by learning outcomes and the better regulation of private higher education institutions.


The Report called for attention to equity with specifics to gender, location, income and disability, and to develop a long-term strategy for education that is relevant  to individual and national aspirations.


The Report called for the reform of the National Health Insurance Scheme, the retention and equitable distribution of health professionals and the improvement in their conditions of access.


The Report stressed the need to develop a Legislative Instrument for the Mental Health Care Act.


On Water and Sanitation, the Report urged Government to aggressively tackle open defaecation by enforcing regulations that rented property should include toilets. It also called on Government to address reasons for the hikes in tariffs, including waste, illegal connections and the pollution of water bodies which decrease the availability of water and result in higher water treatment costs.


On housing, the Report called for the implementation of the National Housing Policy alongside complementary policies such as the National Urban Policy as well as the review and implementation of the Rent Act.


The Report recommended that the conditions of existing jobs be improved and that Government should ratify the Domestic Workers Convention.


To strengthen good governance, the Report stressed the need to pass the Right to Information Bill and the Conduct of Public Officers Bill into law and amend the Whistle Blowers Act.


The Report also urged government to deepen decentralization through the election of District Chief Executives.


On Energy, the Report called for the diversification of Ghana’s energy mix so as to become less dependent on oil and hydro-electric power. The Report also called for the removal of barriers to renewable energy technologies.


On the Environment, the Report urged Government to reclaim degraded forests and enforce laws that reduce air, land and water pollution.


Presenting an overview of the Report, Dr Nana Akua Anyidoho, Senior Research Fellow and Co-ordinator, GSDO 2016, noted that social development, was fundamentally about improving the well-being of an entire population of people, adding that  improving well-being meant attending to the physical, financial, the social needs of people.


That notwithstanding, Dr Anyidoho said, social development went beyond addressing needs and fixing societal problems to actually providing opportunities and a positive environment for people to thrive in all the dimensions of human living.


In an address to launch the Report, the Minister for Planning, Prof. George Gyan-Baffuor, commended ISSER for the Report and pledged Government’s commitment to implementing the recommendations in order meet the social needs of Ghanaians and to enhance the standard of living of all citizens.


Welcoming participants to the launch, Prof. Felix Asante, Director, ISSER, stressed the need to invest in good quality because development goals were achievable only if there was good data to monitor the progress.


Dr Asante called for a national debate on the funding arrangement for the Free Senior High policy  in order to facilitate its implementation under successive administrations.


He commended the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) — a Canadian Federal Crown Corporation that invests in knowledge, innovation and solutions to improve lives and livelihoods in the developing world—for the provision of funds to support the publication of the GSDO.


Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)