Primary and Secondary Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children in Ghana
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a heavy toll on the human and economic development of many countries around the world. As of 31st December 2020, Ghana had the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the region of West and Central Africa with 54,771 persons having tested positive. Acknowledging the multiple efforts made by the Government of Ghana, the paper calls for further investment and actions to address the adverse effects of the pandemic, especially on children. This briefing paper was developed by UNICEF and the Social Policy Research Institute, in collaboration with the National Development Planning Commission. It built on existing microdata, analyses of children’s vulnerabilities and specific phone survey data collected between March and June 2020.
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.
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