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Tanzania, 15 December 2014: International conference on social protection starts in Arusha

Setting up a national system for assisting the poor and vulnerable

15 December 2014, ARUSHA, Tanzania – Today H.E. Seif Ali Iddi, Second Vice President, opened the three-day International Conference on Social Protection at the International Conference Centre in Arusha.

The three-day Conference has been organized by the Government of Tanzania through the Ministry of Finance, in collaboration with UNICEF, ILO, UNAIDS and the Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI) based in South Africa. It aims to encourage South-South exchange of knowledge and best practices to support Tanzania’s efforts in designing policies and programmes for assisting the poor and vulnerable including women, children, elderly, disabled and youth to achieve a basic standard of living. This marks the Government’s commitment to poverty eradication and achieving growth with fairness and justice for all especially women and children.

During his opening speech, H.E. Seif Ali Iddi, Second Vice President, pointed out that Tanzania has its vision set high to graduate to a middle-income country by 2025.

“The Government has adopted social protection as a key strategy for achieving Tanzania’s growth and development vision. This particular Conference aims at ensuring that the vision develops practical measures of a national collaboration to address poverty, and vulnerability and making growth more sustainable and inclusive.”
 

© UNICEF Tanzania/2014/Kate Holt
In Bagamoyo region, Tanzania, an innovative cash transfer programme that relies on local communities for targeting and administering payments is helping the country's poorest families send their children to schools and health centres and enhance their skills in income generating activities.

 
In order to achieve this VISION, the Government wants to ensure that its citizens, including the poorest and the weakest develop their capacities to realize their rights and make Tanzania stronger and a more equal society. Addressing the needs of children especially their nutrition, health and education is critical to helping them grow into happy, productive adults and escape from the inter-generational poverty trap.

H.E. Seif Ali Iddi, Second Vice President, further added that, “collaboration among social protection programmes like TASAF, Community Health Fund and social service delivery ministries of education, health, and water is critical to addressing the demand and the supply aspects of bottlenecks to development for all and I am glad to note that the Conference agenda aims at strengthening this link.”

However, it was also noted that collecting up-to-date and comprehensive social protection/security coverage statistics for Africa including Tanzania, remains a challenge and the available data underscore three fundamental requirements:

  1. The need to improve governance and administrative capacity to enhance coverage cover for ostensibly already covered populations;
  2. The need to amend legislation to extend coverage under existing programmes to currently uncovered populations;
  3. The need to develop and implement new legislation introducing new, perhaps tailor-made, social protection programmes to progressively extend and improve coverage for all.

H.E. Seif Ali Iddi, reminded the participants of the many risks and challenges related to social protection in Africa, including Tanzania and urged them to reflect on them for the duration of the Conference. Some of the challenges he highlighted include:

  • Poverty rates are uniformly high in African countries with the lowest levels of social protection coverage. As such widespread poverty weakens the capacity of people to pay contributions;
  • Fragile tax bases create fiscal challenges for tax-financed approaches; • Large size of the informal sector weakens existing contributory programmes and reduces coverage;
  • Climate change threatens agriculture, the main source of livelihood security for most people. Climate change also affects health security, for instance, by creating new malarial regions, new diseases like Ebola dengue fever, etc.
  • Administration costs, which may be high in comparison to relatively low benefit levels, especially during the early phases of new (small) social security schemes;

At national level, the knowledge and experience gained will support the country’s ongoing efforts to expand its Productive Social Safety Net Programme (PSSN) or TASAF III to reach about six million poorest people by mid-2015. TASAF provides cash assistance to poor families to send their children to school and seek health care for the mother and child. It also provides income opportunities through public works projects and helps families gradually escape from poverty through livelihoods and savings group support.

An inter-sectorial taskforce has been set up at the Prime Minister’s office and is mandated to present a finalized document on ‘National Social Protection Framework’ to the cabinet by the end of December 2014. A draft of this framework will be presented by Permanent secretary-Treasury, Ministry of Finance Dr. Servacius Likwelile, for feedback from the international experts present at the Conference.

The Conference is bringing together more than 150 participants including policy-makers, researchers and practitioners involved in the planning, design, and implementation of social protection programmes and systems countries like Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zambia, South Sudan and Tanzania.

The Conference will conclude on December 17th with closing remarks from Honourable Saada Mkuya Salum, Minister of Finance. It is expected that the Conference will adopt a policy consensus document on social protection for guiding Tanzania’s ongoing efforts in setting up a comprehensive social protection system for the poor and vulnerable and ensuring all citizens have access to basic health, education and income.

 

For further information, including interviews, please contact:

Anna Mwasha, Ministry of Finance: asmwasha@yahoo.com
Lelansi Mwakibibi, Ministry of Finance: lelansim@gmail.com
Sandra Bisin, UNICEF Tanzania: +255 787600079 sbisin@unicef.org
Jacqueline Namfua, UNICEF Tanzania: +255 787600115 jnamfua@unicef.org
Magnus Minja, ILO: +255754956342, minja@ilo.org

 

 
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