Fiscal space for child-sensitive social protection in MENA region

UNICEF and IPC, 2019

Boys smiling


The prevalence of multidimensional poverty in the MENA region, especially among children, is high.  A child’s experience of poverty and vulnerability differs from that of an adult, especially with the irreversible and detrimental consequences that impact child’s survival and development.  Social protection policies and programming can help address the multifaceted nature of child poverty and vulnerability.  In fact, realizing the right to social protection can augment realizing other rights to basic social services, including health, nutrition and education.  The right to social protection is at the core of the 2030 Agenda, articulated in SDG1, specifically with target 1.3 that calls to “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable”.

Realizing the right to social protection requires adequate, efficient, equitable and sustainable financing, which is far from optimal in the MENA region.  The region has recently witnessed the introduction of new flagship social protection programmes. However, comparing coverage estimates of social protection programmes with the incidence of children’s multidimensional and monetary poverty reveals that hardly any of the programmes are large enough to cover all vulnerable children. To expand child-sensitive components in social protection schemes requires funding, and governments of MENA countries are to consider different options to finance such an expansion.  The “Fiscal space for child-sensitive social protection in the MENA region” study aims to assess how MENA countries can expand financing of child-sensitive social protection financing in a sustainable manner, and how to create fiscal space and accelerate investments in social protection while highlighting the limitations of deficit financing and other revenue-increasing alternatives.  

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