Making social protection systems in Africa more responsive to shocks
KAMPALA, 2 July 2018 - The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, UNICEF and the World Bank, are holding a 5-day conference to discuss how social protection programmes can be better tailored to provide timely and effective support to the poor and vulnerable in crisis situations.
The five-day gathering will bring together the Community of Practice (CoP) on Cash Transfers which includes close to 100 practitioners from Government, development partners, local and international NGOs, private sector, academia and researchers to share experiences and learn from each other on issues related to social cash transfer programs and social protection. As such programmes continue to expand across Africa, the meeting will focus on how to make social protection systems in the region more responsive to shocks.
“The call for social protection programmes is not only based on human rights or moral grounds, but on the belief and fact that social protection is an important instrument for economic growth. It is an investment in human capital development which is no less important than investments in physical infrastructure,” said Hon Janat Mukwaya, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Countries in Africa have common characteristics of high poverty, high unemployment, high dependency ratios, natural and man-made disasters, and high disease burden. All these require substantial investments in social protection interventions and yet today most of the countries are performing at less than 2 per cent of GDP investment in social protection.
Social security is a human right and a social and economic necessity. It is a core function of development policy emphasized by the Sustainable Development Goals / Agenda 2030. While safeguarding the right to social protection is an obligation of the State, it remains a shared responsibility with partners and citizens. In the Africa region and beyond, there is evidence to show that social protection programmes targeting lifecycle risks and vulnerabilities that people face at different stages in life have an impact on health and well-being of recipients.
The Government of Uganda has adopted the National Social Protection Policy, and intergrated it in its National Development Plan (NDPII), underscoring the importance of social protection in addressing risks and vulnerabilities.
“With over 56 per cent of the population below 18 years of age Uganda’s vision to become a middle-income country by 2040 remains highly contingent on the Government’s ability to safeguard children’s rights.” said Dr. Doreen Mulenga, UNICEF Representative in Uganda. Investing in its young population will enable Uganda to reap an unprecedented demographic dividend.
Efforts are underway to build a comprehensive national social protection system, including adoption of the policy implementation roadmap, putting in place the national coordination architecture, and a single registry. Several social protection interventions currently under implementation have demonstrated strong evidence of the positive impact on communities, notably:
• Direct income support interventions such as the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) now in 47 districts of Uganda reaching 153,700 beneficiaries. Under this program, the number of households eating fewer than two meals per day fell more than twice, attendance rates in primary and secondary schools rose nearly three times, while employment increased by 50 percent.
• Disaster Risk Financing in Karamoja region of Uganda reaching 33,000 beneficiaries.
• Labour intensive public works under phase three of the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund 3 in Eastern and Northern Uganda reaching 31,386 beneficiaries.
• Others include pensions for public servants and the National Social Security Fund for contributory social security.
“Social protection programmes help households and communities to recover from crisis or disaster. Working through government systems and strengthening local capacity to respond effectively, can prevent families from falling into poverty,” said Christina Malmberg Calvo, Country Manager World Bank in Uganda
Given the drive to ensure social protection systems in the region are more shock-responsive, this meeting of the Community of Practice (COP) represents an invaluable tool for learning and knowledge exchange, and will contribute to the adoption of innovative approaches to alleviate the burden of emerging global challenges on vulnerable populations.
Social protection in Uganda
The National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) and Programme Plan of Interventions were approved by the Cabinet in November 2015. The Government of Uganda under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) has been implementing the Expanding Social Protection Programme since June 2010 and has undertaken the rollout of the Senior Citizens Grant to all districts beginning with 55 by 2020. The core of the Ugandan social protection system includes direct income support programmes, which provide small but regular transfers to targeted individuals and households and guarantee a minimum level of income security.
Community of Practice (CoP) of Cash Transfers in Africa
The CoP was launched in December 2011 with the purpose to share lessons and experiences between countries in Africa operating social cash transfer programs. To date, the Anglophone CoP has 35-member countries grouped into Anglophone and Francophone groups. The member countries of the Anglophone group are: Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/uganda
The World Bank is a global partnership of five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in 189-member countries. It is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. For more information about the World Bank and its work, visit www.worldbank.org