The Government of Maldives (GoM), and its National Social Protection Agency (NSPA), recognise the importance of the social protection system as a core element of protection for citizens. Over the past two decades, the Maldives has significantly expanded coverage of key social protection programmes across the lifecycle. The NSPA aims to improve the operations of its schemes. However, issues remain, particularly in targeting, monitoring and evaluation as well as other areas of its operations.
This report, commissioned by UNICEF, aims to generate evidence on the Maldives’ two social protection programmes for children – the Single Parent Allowance and the Foster Care Allowance. It presents findings from extensive qualitative research in the Maldives with the aim of identifying the challenges faced by children and their families in the Maldives, and community perceptions of the social protection system, its operations, and potential barriers for accessing schemes. The report provides recommendations on how the operations of the social protection schemes for children can be improved, and how these can potentially be scaled up to increase their coverage. The findings are contextualised by a comprehensive desk-based review of literature – including drawing from global case studies – and administrative data.
The report offers a contextual analysis of vulnerabilities in the Maldives, with a focus on children, youth, and their parents and caregivers, with a gender-lens. Children and young people in the Maldives, in particular on the outer islands, face a range of insecurities with limited access to support services and opportunities for education and employment. Despite these insecurities, most children in the Maldives are not eligible for social protection benefits. Due the narrow categorisation of recipients by the Single Parent and Foster Care schemes, only four per cent of the national child population currently access a social protection benefit. Moreover, the schemes’ current implementation and its means-test forms barriers to gender equality in accessing schemes as a result of social stigma associated with poverty and single parenthood among women.
Read the paper here.