This month, Development Pathways provided a training course to support the implementation of the National Social Protection Policy in Uganda, receiving excellent feedback from participants.
The training was implemented within the framework of the Expanding Social Protection Programme Phase Two (ESPII) in partnership with the UK Department for International Development and Irish Aid. The programme aims to establish a comprehensive national social protection system in order to reduce poverty and vulnerability, enhance human capital development and foster a more inclusive socioeconomic transformation. In attendance were mid-to-senior level civil servants who are involved in the implementation of ESPII, as well as staff from a diverse range of key government ministries and other institutions that play a central role in Uganda’s social protection system.
The training course took place over 5 days (29th July – 2 August 2019) and covered topics including: the role of social security in promoting national development; approaches to selecting beneficiaries; integrating a life-cycle approach into the design of social protection systems; mainstreaming gender and a human rights based approach; the role of multi-tiered social security systems in building a social protection floor; social care and support services; monitoring and evaluation of the impact of systems; and, approaches to the costing and financing of social protection, among others.
Sessions were led by experienced senior specialists from Development Pathways, alongside a number of guest speakers who delivered engaging sessions on their areas of specialism, drawing on extensive experience in the social protection sector in both Uganda and internationally. A senior member of South Africa’s Social Security Agency (SASS) also shared South Africa’s experiences in delivering social protection.
The training highlighted the persuasive case for investing in social protection programmes, using evidence to show how this can not only significantly reduce poverty and inequality, but also enhance government investments across many sectors and contribute to political stability.
The politically persuasive nature of universal social protection schemes was emphasised during participants’ involvement in a political economy simulation. The exercise illustrated that, when benefits are distributed universally, a higher proportion of the population would support a higher tax rate which would increase the national tax base. A highly influential group would be the ‘Middle Class’, who would gain from paying higher tax rates if they receive benefits in return by being included in the schemes. Participants commented that this session was highly informative and provided fresh insights about the political viability of expanding social protection. Some stressed that they would like to see these insights communicated more widely amongst stakeholders, with one participant noting: “I would like to see government officials in the ministries and parliament go through such trainings to stimulate their understanding of social security.”
Another key message of the training was that social protection is a human right that all citizens are entitled to. Over the five days, the sessions comprehensively built the case for a paradigm shift away from a charity model of social protection towards a rights-based citizenship model. This included showing that social security represents one of the largest areas of public investment in high income countries and demonstrated the role that this investment has played in determining their socio-economic successes. The training covered understandings of a lifecycle approach to social protection and emphasised that countries have agreed to build national social protection floors within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The extensive training culminated in participants taking part in a microsimulation. This time, participants conducted a costing and impact simulation to develop a comprehensive social protection system for Uganda that they were to present and defend to a panel of ‘government ministers’ played by senior specialists from Development Pathways. Participants fed back that this was a highly enjoyable activity. It supported participants to consolidate the broad and in-depth knowledge base that they had developed over the intensive 5-day training. The discussions that arose from the presentations were rich and insightful, demonstrating a high level of engagement between participants who were from a diverse range of ministries and agencies.
Each session within the training consisted of a combination of presentations, discussions and interactive activities, including the use of an innovative online voting tool. In combination with the group work, this tool created a diverse and engaging learning experience for all participants. Indeed, participants commended the collaborative style of learning that the sessions promoted. One participant wrote that they found it to be a “…very interactive training. Facilitators provided opportunity for engagements. Use of voting tools was very good and a new experience.”
Overall, the training was highly effective in providing a detailed, insightful and engaging cross-sector learning experience for key stakeholders in Uganda’s Expanding Social Protection Program Phase Two, with participants labelling it a “very interesting and useful training” and one participant noting that “I was able to learn many aspects in social protection which I didn’t know before.”
If you are interested in participating in a new training to learn how to better make the case for inclusive social protection, Development Pathways will be providing an exciting and comprehensive programme in Naivasha, Kenya in November 2019. To register, please see here.