The Uganda platform. for social platform

met the Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection at Parliament on Friday, 17th August, 2012 with the aim of lobbying government to allocate more funds for ongoing Social Protection Programmes, especially the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE). The meeting; chaired by Hon. Flavia Kabahende; was attended by 15 Members of Parliament and 32 representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). In his brief remarks, Dr Tavengwa Nhongo, the Executive Director of the APSP, began on a light note congratulating Uganda for winning the gold medal in the marathon during the London Olympics. He also took the opportunity to thank the Parliamentary Forum for agreeing to meet the CSO’s and for listening to their concerns. He pointed out that Social Protection is a right, as enshrined in international and continental declarations, conventions and charters, that include the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights and the 1981 African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. He mentioned that the Social Protection discourse was talking place in nearly 40 countries of Africa but countries were at different levels of implementation of programmes, commending the Ugandans for the great strides they have taken in implementing the programmes in the different districts.

He noted that the implementation of programmes on SP and the provision of government funding was a matter of political will. Every government can afford to put in place some Social Protection programmes for their citizens. He gave examples of Lesotho, Zambia, Kenya and Rwanda where governments were making commendable strides in setting up programmes for their people. He noted that Lesotho, for instance, implemented their programme against the advice of international donors in 2004 and continues to manage it up to now. Alfred Nuamanya, the Chairman of the Uganda Platform for Social Protection, outlined the concerns of Ugandan CSO’s which were contained in the statement that had been issued in the print and electronic media. All the Parliamentarians present agreed that Social Protection was important and that the government should make urgent steps to implement programmes. They resolved to lobby their colleagues, Ministers and His Excellency, the President to seek ways in which funding for the ongoing SAGE can be secured and increased with the aim of rolling out nationally.

 

This is a great read and especially where examples from Brazil and Ethiopia are sited as good practices that can be replicated in Kenya. One thing that should have been accentuated together with the importance of systems and structure, is Political Will. The Social Protection Policy, took years before both consensus was built among various stakeholders and adopted. Key to discussions around Social Protection upscaling is how is it attractive to policy makers and treasury as a whole? The reason pilots and research persist is because of evidence building. Social Protection is often misconstrued as a hand-out because many interpret it as an opportunity cost for government that draw from the productive segments of public which often regard the programmes as not directly impacting them. The article clearly points to the benefit of inclusive growth and development. However, politics do play a crucial role in how programmes are designed and who they target. There is definitely an opportunity to integrate economic and political objectives to Social Protection without overlooking the importance of protecting the most vulnerable in society. Africa is of course a political continent, and context matters, for instance a rights based approach to Social Protection is one way to approach this issue. Another way would be to look at the accrued benefits to government as they roll out Social Protection Programmes. Issues like inclusive development bolster peace which is good for the economy, building of micro-economic stability, acceleration of aggregate demand, improving income security, better coping mechanisms to risks and shocks, increasing government legitimacy etc. Kenya specifically is about to elect the fourth president of the republic, with campaigns getting heated up, perhaps Social Protection can be touted as an agenda item for the succeeding regime

17th May 2012, marks the culmination of efforts by APSP, Social Protection Actors Forum (SPAF), the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Development, DFID, UNICEF, World Bank and other Civil Society Organisations efforts to have the government officially adopt the National Social Protection Policy. The process was given the nod by Cabinet on Thursday and proposes to look into the social wellbeing of society’s vulnerable groups. 

The process will involve instituting cash transfer programmes, work for food, work for cash programmes, a pensions and health retirement scheme for the most vulnerable among a host of other social protection measures. 

Noteworthy however is the gapping disconnect between policy makers and the grassroots during implementation in this regard government has proposed to establish a National Social Protection Committee with subsidiaries in all 47 counties within Kenya. The steps are well worth it but the process is only now just beginning with a Sessional Paper due to be tabled for debate on the floor of cabinet. APSP would nonetheless like to commend efforts from all stakeholders in the process and urge them to trudge on with this noble endeavour.

The Uganda Platform for Social Protection met the Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection at Parliament on Friday, 17th August, 2012 with the aim of lobbying government to allocate more funds for the ongoing Social Protection Programmes, especially the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE).

 

The meeting; chaired by Hon. Flavia Kabahende; was attended by 15 Members of Parliament and 32 representatives of Civil Society Organisations. In his brief remarks, Dr Tavengwa Nhongo, the Executive Director of the APSP, congratulated Uganda for winning the gold medal in the marathon during the London Olympics and thanked the Parliamentary Forum for agreeing to meet the CSO’s and for listening to their concerns. He said that Social Protection was a right as enshrined in all international and continental declarations, conventions and charters that include the Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the African Union’s Charter on Human and People’s Rights. He mentioned that the Social Protection discourse was talking place in nearly 40 countries of Africa but countries were at different levels of implementation of programmes. Commending the Ugandans for the great strides it has taken in implementing the programmes in the different districts. He noted that the implementation of programmes on SP and the provision of government funding was a matter of political will. Every government can afford to put in place some Social Protection programmes for their citizens. He gave examples of Lesotho, Zambia, Kenya and Rwanda where governments were making strides in setting up programmes for their people. He noted that Lesotho, for instance, implemented their programme against the advice of the international donors in 2004 but is still managing it up to now.

 

Alfred Nuamanya, the Chairman of the Uganda Platform for Social Protection, outlined the concerns of Ugandan CSO’s which were contained in the statement that had been issued in the print and electronic media.

 

All the Parliamentarians present agreed that Social Protection was important and that the government should make urgent steps to implement programmes. They were going to lobby their colleagues, Ministers and His Excellency, the President to seek ways in which funding for the ongoing SAGE can be secured and then push for the rolling out of the SAGE nationally.

Over 50% of Niger’s population lives below the poverty line. With the coming to power of the 7th Republic optimists are seeing an opportunity to maximise on constitutional reforms which will not only alleviate poverty levels but also establish structures that will protect vulnerable groups within society from everyday shocks. ProtecSo, the name given to the Niger Social Protection Platform, in partnership with the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP), on 12th May 2012, brought together over 100 participants to Niamey for a one day workshopchristened the Information Day for Sensitization, Exchange (experiences) and Advocacy under the theme Fighting Against Poverty in Niger.

The meeting which was held under the auspices of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (CESOC), also brought onboard the Niger Grassroots Development Organisation (ONDPH).

The purpose of the workshop was to build capacity among participants who included national deputies, representatives from the ministry of public health, ministry of planning, territorial management and community development, the ministry of population, women empowerment and protection of children, private sector, international and local non-governmental organisations, civil society, universities and the private sector. Niger which is pressed with a number of social issues singled out employment creation especially for the youth, pension schemes for the aged, social safety nets for the society and a social health fund as some of the key issues plaguing the nation.

Coincidentally, some of these issues are also cited in the National Strategy for Development and Poverty Reduction of 2008-2012 (SDRP), and backed by provisions in the constitution. These give credence to the mandate and vision of ProtecSo and provide the necessary instrumentation to push the Social Protection agenda forward bringing together key stakeholders to work together in synergy to realise a common ambition for Niger. Under ProtecSo’s banner efforts can be consolidated to allow for both policy formulation and implementation to take a smoother course. ProtecSo is glad to report that the workshop allowed participants to interact with experts in the field and express their views and ideas in open plenary that saw a clear prescription of functions for the platform. Notably the Annual Action Plan for Niamey and its environs made a debut during the workshop. This goes a long way in providing a guiding document for the leaders who were present and a reference point with which to engage Social Protection issues.

A week has passed since we participated in that wonderful team building experience. I can say without doubt that the exercise has had a sustained impact on the staff here at Africa Platform for Social Protection. It was great to spend some time together, but we shared more than that. We shared ideas, reactions, stories, laughs and our personalities in a way that was unrelated to deadlines and the usual workplace conversation. It gave us an opportunity to see how the people we work with everyday interact outside the workplace.

Team building is an intentional act of management that takes time, planning and a little investment. Team building has a lot of advantages and these are some of them

a.       It makes one to be comfortable with a co-worker hence making one confidence and willing to share ideas

b.      Being in a new environment gives one the opportunity to recognize new skills and strengths in other people

c.       It leads to improved communication among the staff members since communication is an asset  that can result in a smoother processes and better result for the organization

Thank you for team building exercise, we learned a great deal about ourselves and each other. We learned about team trust, support and how we can pull together as a team to achieve success   

 

Growing Together

The APSP family held its annual team building exercise in Mombasa, Kenya from 20th – 23rd July 2012. The change in venue provided staff members with a much needed opportunity to interact in an official ‘unofficial’ capacity. Staff members were able to report on goings-on within the organization with different departments taking lead to outline yearly plans, review them and plan for the future. Staff also managed to strategies as a team as well as think up innovative ways to further build organizational capacity including a specific section of how to build cohesion among staff.

 It was not all work though as staff were entreated to a splash in the ocean as well as a city tour which was welcomed by the age old Muslim tradition of Ramadan

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