continent. An entire week dedicated to Social Protection bringing together governments, civil society organisations and international development partners. Creation of opportunities for all and reducing shocks to vulnerable groups have largely been approached as economic problems that can be solved with economic solutions. As it turns out economic growth alone has not been able to provide that vital nexus to cushion the most vulnerable groups in society from shocks of daily living. Social Protection programmes have been known to greatly bridge this gap and give vulnerable groups in society a shot at a more dignified standard of living.

The MozambiqueWeek on Social Protection began with delegates being taken to five project sites which depicted the epitome of Social Protection. These included a children’s orphanage, a cash transfer programme, a recreation facility for older persons, a home for mentally disabled children and a pilot government installation for information sharing and community outreach. To download a copy of the report in pdf please click here.

 

 

Two days of substantive deliberations on policy engagements and country experiences backboned presentations on Social Protection strategies and interventions. The Mozambique Prime Minister Aires Bonifácio Baptista Ali and Minister for Women and Social Action, Iolanda Maria Pedro Campos Cintura were at hand to welcome participants from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe together with representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), UNICEF, Department for International Development (DFID), European Commission to name but a few.

Investing in Basic Social Protection is to invest in Human Capital was a strong rallying point towards investing in people rather than in projects. Programmes in Social Protection stem from a need to protect the most vulnerable in society. Providing a sustainable means of subsistence at the very least is a fundamental right and not a privilege. The ILO which has been championing the Social Protection Floor, which it reiterated during the conference, hope that the SPF will form a guiding framework for a bare minimum to which governments can put in place.

How do we Sustain Social Protection in a Developing Country?

Competing interests and different policy orientations have been a stumbling block for the implementation of Social Protection measures and strategies. Marrying political motivations and Social Protection policies is becoming more and more an issue to contend with. The scenario is not just how we set up these programmes but how to maintain them once the structures are in place. In this particular section development partners represented by IMF, WB, ILO, DFID and the European Commission alluded to the fact that both government and themselves were instrumental in the entire process. Development partners could come in, in the initial setting up of the process, whereas governments could maintain different programmes to ensure sustainability. In particular reference to cash transfer programmes most governments complained that these were untenable due to constrained finances. Interestingly enough however, as a percentage of GDP, cash transfers in Uganda for instance, account for less than 1%. It did come out though that Economic growth was imperative to sustenance of Social Protection programmes by government.

Another important factor was the need to invest in human capacity to not only implement the programmes but also push for requisite policy. In deed this is not just government’s responsibility, but a societal concern that needs various inputs from different stakeholders. A key resource that was largely untapped was the private sector, who through such initiatives as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be co-opted into different projects to ensure that long-term poverty alleviation measures are put in place. Public Private Partnerships (PPP) have also been known to yield considerable results in the development of programmes across the world, and it is time to build the necessary infrastructure and bonds to ensure that vulnerability is no longer an issue.

Who Else Can Get Involved?

So who else can play with the big boys? Spearheaded by HelpAge international, a side event was held during the Week on Social Protection that largely focused on thedsc03461Some board members from the Mozambique Platform for Social Protection pose with the Minister for Women and Social Action, Iolanda M. P. C. Cintura (in white) role of Civil Society. Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP) were accorded the opportunity to present in this session, Ms. Marion Ouma, Programme Coordinator, was keen to point out how Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been instrumental in pushing for Social Protection policies across the continent, Kenya was one such example. Capacity Building is also vital to enable CSOs not only engage grassroots beneficiaries on what they have coming their way, but also at a policy level where and how they could effectively engage policy formulators, technocrats as well as relevant arms of government and development partners.

Bottom Line

One consistent message that resonated throughout the week was the need for collaboration and corporation. This collaboration involves government ministries, civil society organisations and development partners. These all play key roles in formulation and implementation of Social Protection Policies and programmes. It cannot be reiterated further how important a synergy of efforts is important.

 

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