The UK Government has given a response to the International Development Sub-Committee which works under the auspice of the House of Commons following its work on the “Changing Nature of UK Aid in Ghana.”
The published response by the Government highlighted its deep concern on the impact of the pandemic on Ghana’s economy. It noted that, as a result of COVID, Ghana’s economic growth declined from 5.8 percent to 0.9 percent in 2020, according to the IMF and the deficit expected to expand to 16.4 percent, the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Also, it highlighted that the problem of debt servicing will lead to very tight public sector expenditure in the social sectors and capital investment.
“Covid-19 has ravaged countries around the world, and its effect on Ghana is deeply troubling. The Government’s response to our recently published report on aid in Ghana has brought this into sharper focus – the covid-19 pandemic is potentially setting back progress in gender equality with increased instances of child marriage and gender-based violence, whilst the country’s deficit will likely increase to being one of the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.Theo Clarke, MP, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on the work of Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI)
“While Ghana is transitioning to a country that can finance its own development, the impact of covid-19 highlights the fragility of the country if we reduce UK aid too quickly. It is promising that the Government recognizes these risks, and I look forward to hearing how its engagement with civil society and work with multilateral organizations can support delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Another concern raised by the UK Government pertained to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on women and girls. This concern was backed by available evidence that gender disparities or inequalities are rife in Ghana; gender-based violence, child marriage and teenage pregnancy are on the rise, as well as child labour.
The UK Government therefore gave a number of responses to the recommendations provided by the International Development Sub-Committee on the report:
For the purpose of contributing to the transition towards, ‘Sustainable’, ‘Wealthy’ and a ‘Resilient’ Ghana, the UK will design a new strategy for Ghana along the themes of the seven global challenges, namely; tackling climate change, responding to COVID-19 and building global health security, supporting girl’s education, delivering solutions based on science, research and technology, strengthening open societies and conflict resolution, leading humanitarian and economic response, and building trade and economic development.
The UK Government acknowledged the vital role its multilateral investments and partners play towards supporting Ghana’s agenda to move beyond aid. Thus, the government has resolved to spend all investment- bilateral or multilateral- effectively in order to deliver results. Already, the UK Government through the British High Commission in Accra is working together with development partners, especially the World Bank, to ensure a coherent, mutually supportive approach. The UK Government reiterated that it will put in the much required efforts to galvanize international action and spur collaboration between other partners to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Furthermore, the Government noted that, in providing aid to particular sectors such as health, education and livelihoods, citizen’s needs and preferences are important. Based on this, the Foreign, Common Wealth and Development Office (FCDO) is reviewing how it uses aid to deliver the greatest impact, which will require a strategic effort with clear goals.
Also, focus will be on technical assistance to build governments’ own capability to deliver growth and development as countries exit poverty. FCDO will continue to engage with Ghanaian civil society.
The UK Government also affirmed its commitment to prioritize spending on girls’ education in Ghana. As part of such efforts, the FCDO Ghana is stepping up its focus on gender equality amid concerns of the impact covid-19 is having on women and girls.
The recommendation further stated that girls’ education will remain a priority for UK aid. In early 2021, the FCDO will work with the Ghanaian Government and non-state partners to conduct a review of the Girls-PASS programme 2012-2020 to assess the longer-term impact of UK aid on quality girls’ education.
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