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Social protection scheme delivery “must improve to reach the underserved”

27/03/2019

Social protection scheme 'one-stop shops' including in Mongolia can "better reach underserved populations". Copyright @ ILO/N. Munkhbaatar 2014

The implementation of social protection schemes around the world must improve to better reach underserved populations, according to a progress report on the progressive realisation of the right to social protection. 

A report from the ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Social Protection Floors Recommendation No.202 aims to take stock of the design, implementation and monitoring of social protection schemes worldwide, and provide guidance on how these can be improved. Very importantly, the document highlights the crucial role of realising the right to social protection in furthering human dignity and social cohesion, in line with the perspective Development Pathways has put forward in our work and presentations.

The document states that the basic social security guarantees that the floors provide can “only be achieved through non-discriminatory, inclusive and responsive social protection systems”. When addressing gaps in coverage, decision-makers need to factor in sectors in the informal economy, rural populations and migrants, as these are prone to be particularly unprotected. 

The Committee advises that both strong national policies to provide coherence and coordination of social protection schemes and effective administrative functions close to citizens can improve delivery of benefits – vital “to effectively reach all intended target groups”. It also underlines, in line with recent evidence on 38 programmes, that targeting results in the exclusion of many of those eligible and fails to provide clear eligibility criteria which can be effectively challenged through grievance processes. 

On the question of achieving effective delivery, it points to ‘single window services’ or ‘one-stop shops’ established at the local level in a number of nations to better reach underserved populations, particularly in rural areas. Such approaches have been successfully implemented in Brazil, India, Mongolia, South Africa and Tajikistan, it says, while in Mexico, social protection delivery is decentralised to municipalities and in Nepal ministries work through district and village structures.  

On financing, the Committee urges nations to act to draw up budgets to fill gaps in coverage. It notes that a universal pension set at a national poverty line, for example, would cost low- and middle-income nations 1.6% of GDP on average. And nations such as Botswana, Indonesia and Peru “are as rich as the U.K was in 1911 when it set up a social security system” and India, Jamaica and Morocco are “wealthier than Denmark in 1892 when it established universal social protection, it adds 

Alexandra Barrantes, Senior Social Policy Specialist at Development Pathways, commented: “Social protection programmes need to put human dignity at the centre, avoiding discrimination and stigmatisation. They need to respect recipient’s dignity throughout its implementation and in all social service delivery.”

“Focusing only on programme efficiency and outcomes does not necessarily guarantee a human rights-based approach that seeks to guarantee the right to social security and the right to dignity,” she added.

Universal social protection for human dignity, social justice and sustainable development is available by clicking here. 

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