Welfare systems are designed by countries to serve as a bulwark against unexpected outcomes in an increasingly globalized world . Over the years , the world over due to either natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes etc or man-made disasters like warfare , advances in technological development have had a devastating impact on all populations across the globe and by virtue of the fact that, leaders and their officials have had to sit down to analyze these outcomes and draw up programmes ( social, economic, developmental or otherwise ) to be able to help with the conditions. All these programmes are done in consultation with the affected parties to tackle the problem holistically . Most often than not, the impact of these interventions create an avenue to make life easier or close to the prevailing conditions which existed before the disaster struck .
Whereas, in Europe and the advanced world, these interventions are carefully planned out to target the most affected or vulnerable groups with a proper accounting procedure attached to these plans , sometimes they are not entirely foolproof but goes a long way to cut out the risks inherent. We can quote the Economic Recovery Plan of the 1930s and 1940s to compensate for the economic woes of the general world economy due to the First and Second World wars ( the plan sought to recapitalize the industries of the West which were affected by the carnal warfare over eight decades). These pragmatic actions by the Western leaders has gone a long way to revive their economies and propel these countries to good economic growth , that makes them the envy of other continents . America as arguably the great superpower of the world has been leading these efforts as well as crafting as well as a good welfare system to cushion the vulnerable persons in their country, by subsidizing healthcare ,education ,paying student allowances , giving bailouts to distressed businesses ,paying unemployment benefits to the unemployed (all these welfare policies and systems are widespread over Europe and other parts of the developed world as well). Most often than not, citizens in those parts of the world have the appropriate systems and policy initiatives by their governments to cushion them against unexpected happenings ,which goes a long way to promote democracy, financial stability and steady economic progress.
In addition, the countries in the Eastern European Bloc , like Denmark, Norway , Sweden etc have low population density , sound economic policies ,prudent economic management in addition to selfless leaders rank high on the Global Standards of Living globally, where the allocation of public resources is people centred with a strict accountability mechanism to boot. The working and business class citizens freely pay taxes because they know exactly where their monies are going to help support the welfare system to guarantee the safety of all.
The welfare system in Africa for a longtime has been non-existent at best because of a lack of proper planning and incoherent policies . Our leaders have largely maintained colonial policies which have only served the purpose of the elite few to enrich themselves at the expense of the masses . We are yet to break the yoke of independence in the 1950s and 1960s , but almost five decades of self administration has brought nothing but staggered phases of development which has dependent on handouts and grants of the developed world. This dependency theory of our leaders who despite the vast riches of the African continent which accounts for 70% of the world’s resources which are being exploited by the institutions of the Imperial West. Lac of insight, vision, and insight of our African leaders has made our institutions of learning redundant because the colonial legacy of training our students not to be gamechangers but vestiges of the West to look for non- existent white collar jobs whilst our ancestors used indigenous skills to build the society we inherited from them.
Furthermore, I am using Ghana as a case in point for this piece, because she is largely referred to as the gateway to Africa because she was among the first countries to gain independence from Great Britain , the first country south of the Sahara to do so. Most institutions and public organizations are still archaic and colonial in nature which goes to serve the purpose of the elite few. More than sixty years of independence , most of our businesses are largely informal , with the formalized sectors of the economy being about 20%. The formal sector is highly overtaxed by the state authorities in spite of the meagre salaries of the workforce , and due to the lack of foresight and political will to rope in the non-formal sector to holistically develop the nation at large. The taxes collected instead of being used for the greater good of the people are used fr the luxuries of the elite ,their families and contemporaries. The vulnerable people are only of value when elections come around ,where their conscience is bought by gifts and sums of money by the inconsiderate politicians just to consolidate their hold on power . Natural disasters and man-made alike have plagued us since time immemorial and after independence but unlike the West, we bear the brunt of these devastating events because we lack proper structures ,sound policies and deep thinking administrative staff to develop a good welfare system that can cater for unforeseen occurrences but are only reactive after disaster has struck , So many disasters like the thousands of fire outbreaks, floods which have destroyed livelihoods ,maimed and killed thousand robbing the nation of good and competent human resource that would have spurred our nation onto greater heights. In recent memory , the most devastating disasters I have seen are the 9th May ,2001 sporting disaster at the Accra Sports Stadium ( a match involving Hearts of Oak vs Asante Kotoko ,where 126 persons lost their lives in the ensuing chaos) , the floods of May/June ,2015 , fire disaster at Old Fadama destroying about 800 houses and the onset of Covid-19 in March of this year ). These disasters have laid bare our weak disaster management policies, systems and recovery plans to the full glare of the public .
Thousands if not millions of persons have been affected but there has been no coordinated response to bring relief to them, whilst their taxes are used to fund sometimes avoidable expenses of the ruling elite whilst lives of the ordinary citizens is not of value to the political class until elections are due.
Covid-19 struck on a global scale across countries with devastating effects affecting people in over 150 countries ,with 4 million infections .over 360,000 casualties and some stable recovery numbers. As the virus rages on, other countries with impeccable infrastructure and sound welfare systems have being struck down talk less of poorly equipped with ill planning for public purposes. Since March 12 , when Ghana recorded its first two cases of Covid-19 ,a little over 2 months ago ,we have recorded 5918 cases ,1754 recoveries ,31 deaths from routine and enhanced contact tracing from the officials of the Ghana Health Service and its officials with no visible end in sight . High population environments like schools , universities, factories, hotels and hospitality industries have been closed to avoid the wide spread of the virus across the country with only 3 regions of the 16 regions not recording cases of Covid-19 . For the 3 weeks,
the President Nana Akuffo Addo in consultation with the experts announced had a devastating toll on both businesses and the livelihoods due to poorly planned social welfare system of the country. Despite the fact that the government touting its economic gains , the country’s welfare system could not create and sustain a comprehensive welfare programme to feed an estimated 400,000 people targeted because the institutions were not properly equipped to do a good job. This unfortunate incident forced people to break lockdown rules in order to eke a living for themselves and their families , the , shambolic nature of the institutions and officials sharing the food and groceries purchased with over GH80m of the taxpayers money ,and the subsequent overcrowding of the persons to receive food which was defeating the social –distancing protocols were an eyesore . Allegations of food and groceries being shared on a partisan basis was also a blot on the credibility of this intervention . Subsidized water and electricity announced by the government for the general populace was not properly thought through as concerns over sporadic supply of such basic social amenities was alarming in such distressing times . I was really surprised that we as a nation could not properly identify vulnerable groups with proper data collection to avoid the chaos which greeted the sharing of food and non- food items by the relevant state institutions .
In conclusion, we must awaken to demand accountablility and responsibility from the people who we vote for to manage our fortunes and demand that a proper welfare system to be put in place ,otherwise with how Covid-19 has exposed us as a people we might not survive the next disaster .
God bless Ghana ! God bless Africa ! God bless the world !
Submitted by: Citizen Sika
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