Free at last! Kyrgyzstan’s liberation from poor relief, with universal social security for children

In April 2018, a new law will enter into force in Kyrgyzstan which abolishes its main poor relief scheme and replaces it with a system of universal child benefits. This is a major step forward in Kyrgyzstan’s attempt to build an inclusive, lifecycle social protection system, since the nation already offers universal old age pension coverage and disability benefits. However, it is a progressive move that has not gone unnoticed ...

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The two lives of social protection: the tale of cash transfers and social security

Here’s a curious tale about two very different forms of social protection: one is much loved by researchers, the media and donors, but its charms are debatable; the other is too often shunned by academia, commentators and funders despite holding greater promise and staying-power. We could call them ‘cash transfers’ and ‘social security,’ writes Rasmus Schjoedt.

Let’s look first at cash transfers targeted to ‘the poor,’ both the conditional and ...

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Down the ‘development’ data rabbit hole

STARTING my job at Development Pathways a year ago meant an important change in my career: I started conducting much more (‘raw’) data analysis than I had ever done before. Sure, I had worked with micro- or household level data before on and off, but this was the ‘real thing’: Working with data, all day, every day (ok, ok, most days). Over the course of this year, I have learned three ...

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Tackling exclusion, pensions progress, citizen action: a year in review

2017 has been a busy year for Development Pathways. We have redoubled our efforts to share the experience and knowledge we have gained working on building the strategies and systems needed to ensure evidence-led, inclusive programmes that realise human rights.

Our most-read resources reflect the evidence we have provided on the debate around the proxy means test used in international development to target social protection at people defined as ‘poor’. ...

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Looking afresh at social protection programmes, with a human rights lens

Using a human rights lens to look at how cash transfer programmes are designed and implemented brings a number of considerations into view that would otherwise go unseen. A crucial one is that human rights principles should form an integral part of the key processes of cash transfer programmes and of the various design options to carry these out, writes Alexandra Barrantes.

So…how ...

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How has national ownership of Uganda’s Senior Citizen’s Grant developed?

A visit by Ugandan MPs to London has thrown light on the political economy of social protection, including the circumstances in which a donor-supported programme gains national ownership, writes Alexandra Barrantes.

The delegation of Ugandan MPs representing the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection participated in a visit organised by HelpAge International and Age International to the UK last week. The delegation met with ...

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Five things everybody in development should know about disability

A research project looking at social protection for persons with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries has been a very valuable learning experience for me. It was the first time I have done research on disability, and I found that a lot of my thinking – or lack of thinking – on the topic was based on prejudice or ignorance. Here are five important things I learned, writes Rasmus Schjoedt.

1. An impairment ...

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How a nation can own its social protection strategy: the Case of Mozambique

In Mozambique, there are plans for substantial increases in cash transfers, as the government attempts to fulfil its progressive social protection strategy approved last year, writes Joe Hanlon.

That strategy calls for expanding cash payments to most older people and small children. Under plans sent to Parliament, cash transfers to the elderly and disabled would rise next year by 84% in Meticais terms and 131% in dollar terms – ...

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How can a social pension underpin an economic development strategy?

Fresh evidence on the impact of social pensions on local economies is contained in a new report published by the Government of Uganda this week. The report is published ahead of a London event on Making the Case for Social Protection with Ugandan MPs.

The report, published by the Ministry ...

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What is the impact of an inclusive pension? Evidence from Uganda

A new paper, presented at a workshop in Kampala, shows potentially very significant Rates of Return for Uganda’s Senior Citizen’s Grant. Depending on the specific assumptions, the SCG, which is an old age pension provided on a universal basis in selected districts, could pay for itself 1.4 times over within a 10 year period, if scaled up across the country – through its effects on education alone.

The paper is the ...

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What ails Kenya’s elections? Thoughts on a way forward

Unfortunately, Kenya’s election is becoming a circus. We had elections on August 8th that were annulled by Supreme Court over irregularities and illegalities. So, we then had another election on October 26th that was boycotted by the leading opposition figure, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and his supporters. Before or immediately after the electoral commission announces the winner – depending on when vote tallying is concluded – the opposition will ...

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No identity crisis for social protection programmes that link with ID agencies

Biometric technology presents a huge opportunity to social protection programmes, in particular the potential to ensure that only eligible programme beneficiaries receive payments. But to fully realise the benefits of biometrics, social protection programmes need to work closely with national identity agencies who are better placed to provide individuals with a unique identity record and can match people with those records, writes Richard Chirchir.

Biometrics – such as fingerprints, voices, faces ...

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Social protection in fragile contexts: the unique role of pensions

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to attend the international conference on Social Protection in contexts of fragility and forced displacement. One of the recurring messages emerging from the conference was that the ultimate ambition in these contexts should be long-term, nationally-owned social protection systems. I was able to share some thinking about ...

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Under threat: social protection that includes everybody in their old age?

October 1st is the International Day of Older Persons, this year about ensuring older people can fully contribute to society. It’s a day for everyone, since we all hope to reach old age and enjoy long and fruitful lives. And, of course, none of us want our last years destroyed by poverty, which is why we want to access ...

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Team Social Protection, it’s time to catch up with Team Child Protection!

Before I dive into this blog, I want to clarify one point: child protection and social protection are not the same thing. I’ve had some awkward (and at times heated) debates about this in the past so I want to clear this up first. Simply put, social protection (or social security) is about preventing and responding to income-related shocks, crises and vulnerabilities across the life cycle. Child protection on the other ...

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Pathways to a universal basic income in low- and middle-income countries

The idea of providing a periodic, unconditional cash transfer to all residents of a country – a universal basic income – has rapidly gained traction in recent years. However, the debate about basic income often seems curiously divorced from the wider debate about the expansion of social security systems, writes Rasmus Schjoedt.

For example, the debate about the potential for a basic income in India has so far neglected ...

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Lost in translation in social protection: rights and development

Those of us working on social protection have, most likely, interacted with both the human rights and international development worlds and noticed their somewhat different approaches to social protection.  While there is some overlap between the approaches, they often struggle to work collaboratively. We need to develop a shared language so that the nuts and bolts of the social protection agenda are not lost in translation, writes Alexandra Barrantes.

The ...

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What lies behind the thinking of those driving development at the IMF?

The IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office rarely lives up to its pretention to operate in real independence from the Fund, as its name implies, writes Peter Bavkis.  One is hard-pressed to cite IEO reports that embrace thorough critiques of IMF policies, despite their frequency in academic circles and among civil society organisations, or that call for substantial revamping of policies and practices. The IEO report  ...

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The importance of community perspectives: engaging with the Karamojong in Uganda

As a researcher in training, I had the opportunity to participate in a study into the core causes of food, nutrition, and income insecurity in Karamoja, a sub region in the east of Uganda. This mixed-methods study – undertaken by Development Pathways for the World Food Programme – was my first experience conducting research in the field, writes Development Pathways’ Anh Tran.

For one week – as part of my professional development ...

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Is Nigeria’s Social Protection on the cusp of transformation?

Will the design of a direct cash transfer in Nigeria ensure its ongoing popularity and sustainability? Guest blogger Gbenga Shadare considers the issues.

In the course of the last presidential campaign in Nigeria, which saw the People’s Democratic Party overthrown for the first time since the return to democracy in 1999,  the candidate for the All Progressive Congress promised a direct cash transfer to the poorest citizens. While pundits and critics generally ...

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