Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Social Policy Research Institute (SPRI Global) has been actively engaged in efforts to monitor, analyse, and report on the wide-ranging social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and their families.

The Social Policy Research Institute has been supporting UNICEF Ghana in monitoring and assessing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and their families. The research accounts for pre-COVID-19 vulnerabilities to inform monitoring of present developments and lays the groundwork for simulations of future impact.

As part of this ongoing research of our team with the National Development Planning Commission, UNICEF Ghana and other stakeholders, two publications are now available:

  • An issue paper outlining the key risks and vulnerabilities to child wellbeing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, titled Primary and Secondary Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children in Ghana. (Download here)
  • The first of a series of bulletins on children’s wellbeing in Ghana amid the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a longitudinal national representative phone survey with 3,265 households and 2,063 caretakers of children, administered by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) in June 2020. (Download here)

Issue paper: “Primary and Secondary Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children in Ghana”

The issue brief outlines the primary and secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in Ghana based on existing microdata and analyses of children’s vulnerabilities, as well as on a selection of recently collected data that aims to recurrently monitor the effects of the pandemic. The objective of this paper is to raise awareness of the wide-ranging and potentially long-lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and related containment measures on children in Ghana. Key messages and findings of this paper include:

  • Already before the pandemic, 28.2% of children in Ghana were living in monetary poor households. A predicted rise in household poverty and worsening living standards in Ghana highlights the importance of strengthening and expanding the nation’s social protection systems to be shock responsive, inclusive and promotive.
  • In the short term, children have experienced reduced access to essential goods and services, increased poverty, food insecurity and exposure to violence, abuse and exploitation, as well as declines in physical and mental health. In the long term, these experiences may lead to adverse effects on children’s health, nutrition and learning outcomes, psychosocial well-being, and on the ability of households to recover from shock. Especially among vulnerable households and children, these factors risk exacerbating existing deprivations and inequities.
  • A holistic approach involving all sectors is necessary to address the wide-reaching secondary effects of the virus and consequent mitigation and preventive measures on children. In addition to emergency relief, strengthening social protection systems and prioritizing child-sensitive spending on human capital development, particularly on children’s learning through school reopening, are forward-looking strategies to protect children from this and future crises.

Bulletin on children’s wellbeing in Ghana amid the COVID-19 pandemic:

The series of reports has the primary purpose of empowering policymakers with timely evidence on child-related issues, across the spectrum of wellbeing, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key findings of the first bulletin in this series include:

  • There have been significant adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in Ghana in the short-term concerning access to essential services, financial distress, food insecurity, mental health, increased risk of exposure to violence and child labor, and children’s learning.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 children aged between 6 months and 14 years had fewer meals than usual in the four weeks preceding the survey in June.
  • There was a decline in utilization of maternal and young child healthcare services due to fear of contracting the virus (primarily), unavailability of vaccines and movement restrictions.
  • A high percentage of children were reported to have shown signs of changes in their emotional state since the outbreak of the pandemic. Nearly 1 in 3 households reported that their children aged 6-17 years felt sad more often than before March 16, 2020.
  • Between March and June 2020 there was an 11% increase in the share of children age 5-17 years engaged in economic activities. Additionally, 35% of children age 5-17 years were engaged in household chores more frequently in the 30 days preceding the survey.
  • More than 1 in 5 children live in households in which physical punishment has become more common during the pandemic, with no gender difference.
  • A significant share of children normally attending primary and junior high school (35%), or senior high school (28%) have not engaged in any education or learning activity since school closures. The most common obstacles to learning at home include lack of access to information devices like computers and phones, lack of learning materials including books, lack of access to internet, and children’s lack of interest/motivation.

Both the issue paper and bulletin report  can be accessed via UNICEF.

An ongoing institutional analysis component investigates the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of basic services in health, education, nutrition, and WASH, across different levels of provision. It additionally investigates the impact of the pandemic on public finance for children in several districts of Ashanti, Greater Accra and the Northern Region. In parallel, a qualitative research component with caregivers and children further explores the effect of the pandemic on different domains of children’s wellbeing with a special focus on psycho-social aspects and protection, and ensures that children’s perceptions, experiences and concerns about the pandemic are heard. 

In a joint effort to determine, understand, and monitor the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s wellbeing, SPRI Global has been working on quantitative and qualitative research on the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on child wellbeing in Ghana, Liberia, Ethiopia, and Viet Nam. For more information, visit our portfolio