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UNICEF Social Inclusion, Policy and Budgeting

Strengthening Social Protection for Families and Children in the Republic of Congo

Cover Image
AUTHOR Anthony Hodges, Clare O’Brien, Lisile Ganga
TYPE Working Paper
DATE 2012
TOPIC Child-sensitive social protection

The Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, is a country with striking contrasts between its status as an oil-rich, low middle-income country and its high levels of poverty and child deprivations. Social protection provision is largely limited to a small minority in the formal sector of the economy.

This paper presents the results of quantitative micro-simulations on the cost, impact and cost-effectiveness of different policy options for cash transfers in Congo, including universal and targeted child allowances, old-age pensions and disability benefits, along with an analysis of the existing social protection system, the policy framework and institutional capacity.

While a poverty-targeted child allowance would be the most cost-effective option, in terms of cost per unit of reduction in the poverty gap, institutional and technical constraints make large-scale poverty targeting unviable in a country with very weak governance. Universal categorical approaches would be much simpler to implement, while still being financially feasible given Congo's substantial fiscal surplus (14% on average in 2006-10). Under the assumptions employed for the simulation, a universal allowance for children under 5 would reduce the national poverty headcount by 9% while costing only 0.7% of GDP.

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