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IPC-IG and UNICEF discussion argues COVID-19 can be a catalyst to strengthen the social contract in South Asia 

01/07/2020

The COVID-19 crisis can be used as a catalyst by which to reinforce the relationship between the citizens of South Asia countries and their governments. This was a key message discussed during a webinar organised by International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG), UNICEF and Development Pathways.  

Speakers included Abdul Alim, UNICEF Regional Social Policy Advisor for South Asia, Fabio Veras, Research Coordinator, IPC-IG and Stephen Kidd, Senior Social Policy Specialist & CEO at Development Pathways. It was moderated by Louise Moreira Daniels, Chief of Social Policy at UNICEF Sri Lanka, and was the second webinar of the Series on Social Protection in South Asia during the landscape of COVID-19 and the seventeenth session of the Social Protection responses to COVID-19 webinar series organised by socialprotection.org 

The conversation centred on how the adequacy of social protection services could be better supported in the short, medium and long term in order to strengthen the social contract in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis in South AsiaThe speakers also each explored the potential, future implications of the role of social protection and how this could improve the social contract paradigm in the region 

Stephen Kidd suggestedmuch in the same way that the World War II–reconstruction process took place in Europe, the COVID-19 crisis could prove to be a “moment of change” for better, universal social protection systems in South Asian countries.He made reference to Development Pathways studies and analysis  including in Nepal and Sri Lanka, amongst others  that make the overall case that underfunded, poor quality, targeting-based systems often include arbitrary means-testing, widespread inaccuracies, unfair treatment and exclusion errors. This only serves to weaken and undermine the government’s legitimacy and, therefore, the notion of a social contract. Whereas, well-funded, universal, rights-based systems produce “good, quality public services” that protect beneficiaries across the lifecycle which positively reinforces the trust and relationship between the state and its citizens.  

Read the webinar summary here.

Watch the webinar here.

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