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Uzbekistan discusses case for inclusive child benefit as universal social protection momentum builds

01/02/2019

The recommendations of a review of Uzbekistan’s social protection system including a new inclusive, higher-impact child benefit will be discussed at an international conference. UNICEF Uzbekistan, supported by Development Pathways, today presenting the results of an analysis to inform the Government of Uzbekistan’s deliberations on social protection reforms in Tashkent which highlights the case for a child benefit to reach the majority of children.

Representatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations heard the evidence as they participated in a policy dialogue on the imperative to reform the social protection system for Uzbekistan’s future economic success, organised by the national movement of citizens Yuksalish and UNICEF.

The recommendations are the result of a project that launched in 2018 and include the option of building on the achievements of Uzbekistan’s high investment in social protection by adopting an inclusive benefit to reach three-quarters of children by 2034, including most children living in poverty.

Children and young people account for nearly 60% of Uzbekistan’s population and the poverty rate is the highest among children, with only 17% of them are covered by current child benefits. This has a minimal impact on poverty, frustrating the development of children who are vital to the nation’s economic success. “The Government has initiated economic reforms [which] are often associated with financial shocks and risks,” said Sascha Graumann, Representative, UNICEF Uzbekistan. “Hence, a strengthened social protection system for families with children must be a key component of the current reform agenda,” he added.

The proposed new strategy would overcome the issue where most of Uzbekistan’s children in poverty are currently prevented from accessing social protection programmes because of poverty-targeting. The Tashkent discussions come on the eve of the international universal child grant conference convened by UNICEF, the ILO and the Overseas Development Institute in Geneva to underline the evidence for universal child benefits.

Yulia Oleinik, Chief, Programme Section, UNICEF Uzbekistan and Development Pathways’ Senior Social Policy Specialist Stephen Kidd will at the Geneva event – expected to draw hundreds of participants – discuss the case for reform to provide an inclusive child benefit.

Stephen Kidd will also in Geneva unveil headline findings from a new global review of the evidence on the effectiveness of targeting undertaken by Development Pathways in collaboration with the Church of Sweden. With evidence from 33 programmes in 22 countries, this will demonstrate the urgent need to re-think the use of poverty-targeting, which fails to reach the majority of the poorest and fails to successfully make an impact on poverty-reduction.

In Uzbekistan, targeted family allowance currently excludes 88% of eligible households while the childcare allowance currently excludes two-thirds of eligible households. The time is now to give all children an opportunity to progress and live fulfilling lives to adopt inclusive schemes.

The full agenda for the Geneva conference is now available here. The session where the Uzbekistan findings will be discussed on the 7th February at 15.45 Central European Time with a live-stream available.

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