How to make the case for an inclusive social protection system in Uganda? What are some of the main considerations, from the political to the financial requirements, to the human rights and gender equity imperatives?
A training course taking place this week in Uganda with key government officials — as part of Development Pathways’ support to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development — is providing answers to these questions.
The training is 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.
The five-day training course is provided to key stakeholders to support developments in the National Social Protection Policy. These include mid-to-senior level civil servants from ministries, departments and agencies who are currently involved in the design, implementation, and delivery of social protection interventions or who are making strategic decisions on social protection.
On the first day Development Pathways social protection experts prepared the participants to make the case by setting out a range of considerations that inform the design of social security benefits — and how designs are linked to levels of political commitment. Claims by proponents of poverty-targeting that transfer levels will be higher if benefits only go to the poorest were debunked.
The evidence on transfer levels, it was highlighted, is of the opposite: the majority of the highest-coverage schemes in the world have higher transfer levels than lower-coverage schemes reserved for a third or fewer of the population. Investing in universal pensions has proved a vote-winner around the world: from Peru to Georgia; in Europe; and, in Africa, in Kenya and Mauritius.
Participants were challenged to consider the ‘missing middle,’ of those on average incomes who are not living in extreme poverty but nonetheless experience precariousness (see slide, below). Significant proportions of those who incomes rose above the poverty line in the past subsequently fell back into poverty. The potential for winning the increased budget allocations necessary to building an inclusive social security system by appealing to this broader group of people was explored.
Such a strategy would have a consequent benefit for those on both low- and average incomes, and the whole of society, as poverty rates would be significantly reduced, it was underlined — which is what universal benefits achieve in Europe.
Development Pathways’ Senior Social Policy Specialist Stephen Kidd commented: “Successfully making the case for inclusive social protection to policymakers relies on understanding the political drivers behind the evolution of schemes. The schemes that win broad political support will, in turn, receive a bigger slice of the budget ‘pie’ and coverage and transfer levels will therefore be maintained and increased.”
“This will build inclusive social protection systems that not only have a more positive political impact than targeted schemes; all the evidence is that it will have a much larger and more lasting impact on poverty too.”
In addition to political considerations, our experts will this week also point to the evidence of investment in social protection from an economic and social standpoint, and address some of the key human rights, equity and gender-sensitive considerations for designing and implementing social protection programmes.
A core element being highlighted throughout the training sessions is the importance of upholding the dignity of beneficiaries. As our specialists have pointed out, shame-proofing social protection and making sure social protection programmes are respectful of social service users’ dignity in the implementation of said services, is crucial. Moreover, equity and human rights standards are to be embedded into the design and implementation of programmes not only when looking at the ultimate outcomes, but also the actual implementation process.
Further training on making the case for inclusive social protection, available to everybody working in the sector, will be offered in November. For further details, click here.