Dr Djermakoye Ide is APSP's Board representative for Francophone Africa. He has a wealth of experience in Health matters and working with civil society organisation. In this article he gives his views on the Sustainable Development Goals read here

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The last edition of the Platform for 2014 is now out. This edition contains stories from Uganda's Social Audit Training, the New Board elected during the Annual Delegates Conference, Social Protection training in Swaziland among others. To download the current issue click on newsletters.

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.

 

At its conference in June the ILO adopted the “Social Protection Floors Recommendation 2012” which means that 184 governments have agreed to:

 

a)  establish and maintain, as applicable, social protection floors as a fundamental element of their national social security systems; and

b)   implement social protection floors within strategies for the extension of social security that progressively ensure higher levels of social security to as many people as possible, guided by ILO social security standards.

 

For the purpose of this Recommendation, social protection floors are nationally defined sets of basic social security guarantees which secure protection aimed at preventing or alleviating poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion.”

 

The main provisions of the floor are:

 

Text Box: 5. The social protection floors referred to in Paragraph 4 should comprise at least the following basic social security guarantees:
(a)	access to a nationally defined set of goods and services, constituting essential health care, including maternity care, that meets the criteria of availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality;
(b) basic income security for children, at least at a nationally defined minimum level, providing access to nutrition, education, care and any other necessary goods and services;
(c)	basic income security, at least at a nationally defined minimum level, for persons in active age who are unable to earn sufficient income, in particular in cases of sickness, unemployment, maternity and disability; and
(d)	basic income security, at least at a nationally defined minimum level, for older persons.

 

Please find attached the full final text and two additional attachments; “The UN Social Protection Floor Initiative” by Michael Cichon & others and “Social Protection Made Simple” produced by the ITUC for Rio +20.

 

As we discussed at our meeting with Michael Cichon shortly before the ILO Conference the formal adoption of the recommendation provides an opportunity for civil society to become involved at the national level, developing the national SPF strategy and at international level maintaining momentum through advocacy in different international fora. Section III of the Recommendation is devoted to “National Strategies for the Extension of Social Security” and begins: 1) Members should formulate and implement national social security extension strategies, based on national consultations through effective social dialogue and social participation.

 

 The final section is devoted to Monitoring

 

 

First steps towards implementation

 

There has been considerable attention paid to the Recommendation since the ILO Conference in June.

 

The Rio +20 Outcome Document (June 2012)

Under section III The Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication  paragraph 77 reads:We stress the need to provide social protection to all members of society, including those who are not employed in the formal economy. In this regard, we strongly encourage national and local initiatives aimed at providing a social protection floor for all citizens”.

 

G20 Leaders Declaration, Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18-19

 

The leaders of the G20 recognized the importance of establishing nationally defined social protection floors in their final declaration. They stated that they will continue to foster inter-agency and international policy coherence, coordination, cooperation and knowledge sharing in order to assist low-income countries in capacity building for implementing social protection floors. They urged international organizations to identify policy options with low-income countries for the development of effective and sustainable protection floors.

 

UN: ECOSOC: July 2012

 

At the conclusion of its 2012 High-Level Segment, the United Nations Economic and Social Council adopted a Ministerial Declaration on the theme of “promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the Millennium Development Goals”. Article 10 states “ We stress the need to provide social protection to all members of society, fostering growth, resilience, social justice and cohesion, including those who are not employed in the formal economy. In this regard, we strongly encourage national and local initiatives aimed at providing social protection floors for all citizens. We support global dialogue on best practices for social protection programmes that takes into account the three dimensions of sustainable development and, in this regard, we note International Labour Organization recommendation 202 concerning national floors for social protection.

(E/2012/L.10E/2012/L.10, 412-40746)

 

The Social Protection Inter-Agency Cooperation Board; in response to the request from the G20 Development Working Group an interagency coordination mechanism, composed of representatives of international organizations and bilateral institutions, was established to enhance global coordination and advocacy on social protection issues and to coordinate international cooperation in country demand-driven actions. The first Social Protection Inter-Agency Cooperation Board meeting took place on 2 and 3 July 2012 in New York at the UN headquarters.

 

 

Possible activities of Inter-Agency Cooperation Board.

 

EU

 

The EU is finalizing a Communication on Social Protection & it is to be hoped that after the consultation it will include reference to the SPF initiative.

 

In 2013 the Commission will launch an “Investing in People” Budget Line on the informal economy and social protection which offers a funding possibility for developing national social protection floors.

 

 

 

Before the ILO Conference 16 NGOs drafted a statement and launched a Global Coalition on the SPF in Geneva;  (see attachment). This group is discussing  objectives and coordination. The International Council of Welfare Organisations has already met to discuss how to become involved.

 

The EU Working Group work will focus advocacy at the European level on promoting the idea that the EU Development Programme, which defines areas of development cooperation which receive financial support at national level, must include national SPFs; this depends upon ensuring the SPF is included in country strategy papers and National development plans. To date the EU Working Group has also been advocating that the forthcoming EU Communication on social protection includes reference to the SPF.

 

There is an urgent need to coordinate efforts at both international and national level. Both the potential new coalition and Oxfam are talking of the need for a mapping exercise to see where platforms/networks exist at national level and what is already happening. There are three main areas for civil society action;

 

·         Mobilization and awareness raising; facilitation of public debate

·         Provision of technical expertise on such issues of older people &people with disabilities;

·         Monitoring of strategies once formulated.

 

 

The objectives which the Grow Up Free From Poverty Coalition has been pursuing for a number of years bear a close relation to the elements of the SPF; it would seem appropriate that the coalition lends its support to the implementation of national SPFs at both the national level where its members have partners, and at the international level. Having supported the Africa Platform for Social Protection since its creation it would also seem appropriate to support the Platform in promoting national SPFs in Africa.

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.

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