• APSP Staff and other participants complete an EPRI course on Social Protection
  • Field Visit during a training session on Social Protection in Mombasa, Kenya
  • Cash transfer programme for persons with disabilities in Maputo, Mozambique
  • Multigenerational faces of vulnerability
  • Older persons are among the vulnerable groups in Africa
  • Participants of the Western Africa Peer Learning and Exchange Workshop in Dakar, Senegal
  • Cash transfer programme in Ghana
  • Plenary Session during the Eastern and Central Africa Peer Learning and Exchange Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya
  • Field Visit during the Southern Africa Peer Learning and Exchange Workshop in Lilongwe, Malawi
  • Beneficiaries of Social Protection programmes show off entrepreneurial projects they have started since programmes commenced
  • Social Protection Programmes also look at children as a vulnerable group

The APSP

Vision

An African continent free from poverty and vulnerability.


Mission Statement

To create partnerships with Civil Society and other organizations to engage with the Governments and International Development Agencies (IDAs) to develop and implement innovative Social Protection strategies and pro­grammes that make a difference in people’s lives in Africa.

One group of persons often overlooked in Social Protection programmes is that of disabled persons. The Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP) which is at the forefront of pushing for the protection of vulnerable groups in society is joined by the European Union in its thinking who through their Communication of August 2012, on Social Protection argue that Social Protection is one of the ways of ensuring inclusion in the development agenda. APSP adds on to that thinking by arguing further that this inclusiveness yields sustainability by harnessing different strengths from these different segments of society. Many African countries are only just waking up to the fact that disabled persons are highly excluded from participation in society, with many traditional practices sidelining many disabled persons. The now famous “Disability in not Inability” statement is no longer a mere statement for musing and dismissing, the now famous Olypian from South Africa, Oscar Pistorius who competed in both the Olympics and Paralympics proved just that. Efforts to have more and more disabled persons included in the development agenda of many countries are now underway.

The Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities, is a key champion of these efforts. The Executive Director of the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP), Dr. Tavengwa Nhongo, was invited to Pretoria, South Africa to take part in a meeting to “Develop the Disability Architecture for the African Decade for Disability”. The meeting that run from 28th August to 1st September 2012, brought together fifteen (15) experts from different fields to deliberate over a way forward on this issue. Participants were drawn from the APSP, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Sight Savers, University of Pretoria, Pan-Africa Parliament and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).

Dr. Nhongo teamed up with Mr. Thomas Ongolo to make a presentation on African Union (AU) Policies and Strategies, including how best to effectively engage the Pan-African organisation. This preliminary meeting looked at how to bring on board the AU and member states in addressing a cross thematic framework post the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) specifically addressing challenges faced by disabled persons. In particular, the meeting sought to get started on an engagement strategy post the 2015 deadline of the MDGs that will bring in Disabled Persons into national consultations as well as influence High Level Policy makers. Fundamentally, a range of post-2015 response strategies need to be formulated in preparation for the conclusion of the MDGs

Dignitaries at the podium 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. Read More 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.

 

Wahenga website is now hosted by APSP

Wahenga website is now hosted by APSP. Click on the WAHENGA link on the menu above to access the website.

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.

 

One group of persons often overlooked in Social Protection programmes is that of disabled persons. APSP which is at the forefront of protecting vulnerable groups of society is joined by the European Union in its thinking who through their Communication of August 2012, on Social Protection, argue that Social Protection is one of the ways of ensuring inclusion in the development agenda, APSP adds on to that thinking by adding in the fact that this inclusiveness yields sustainability by harnessing different strengths from these different segments of society. Many African countries are only just waking up to the fact that disabled persons are highly excluded from participation in society, with many traditional practices sidelining many disabled persons. The now famous “Disability in not Inability” statement is no longer a mere statement for musing and dismissing, the now famous Olypian from South Africa, Pistorius who competed in both the Olympics and Paralympics proved just that. Efforts to have more and more disabled persons included in the development agenda of many countries are now underway.

The Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities, is a key champion of these efforts. The Executive Director of the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP), Dr. Tavengwa Nhongo, was invited to Pretoria, South Africa to take part in a meeting to “Develop the Disability Architecture for the African Decade for Disability”. The meeting that run from 28th August to 1st September 2012, brought together fifteen (15) experts from different fields to deliberate over a way forward on this issue. Participants were drawn from the APSP, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Sight Savers, University of Pretoria, Pan-Africa Parliament and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).

Dr. Nhongo teamed up with Mr. Thomas Ongolo to make a presentation on African Union (AU) Policies and Strategies including how best to engage the Pan-African organisation. This preliminary meeting looked at how best to engage the AU and member states in addressing a cross thematic framework post the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) specifically addressing challenges faced by disabled persons. In particular, the meeting sought to get started on an engagement strategy post the 2015 deadline of the MDGs that will bring in Disabled Persons into national consultations as well as influence High Level Policy makers. Fundamentally, a range of post

The Regional Peer Exchange and Learning Event is an annual activity organized by the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP) in collaboration with the host government and the National Platform comprised of Civil Society Organizations focusing on Social Protection. The event aims at facilitating the sharing of lessons and experiences between Civil Society and relevant government ministries in the three regions of Africa i.e. West, East and Southern Africa.

 

The focus of the 2012 Southern Africa Exchange and Learning Event is to share and learn about what has been the contribution of Social Protection in the acceleration of the MDG 1 which focuses on Poverty, Employment and Hunger.  The three day event to be held in Lilongwe on a date to be agreed in September, 2012, is being organized by the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP) in collaboration with the Council for Non Governmental Organizations in Malawi (CONGOMA) and the Social Protection Department in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development in Malawi.

 

Malawi which recently joined the ranks of the select few countries with a female head of State, Her Excellency Joyce Banda, makes for African history. News of her ascending to power echoed across the globe and was warmly received in Social Protection circles as well as by its enthusiasts across the divide, given that she is hailed as a champion for the poor. Poverty alleviation which is at the heart of her reform agenda blows a gust in the Social Protection sail within the country.

Dr. Tavengwa Nhongo, the Executive Director of the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP) was in Lilongwe, Malawi from 14th to 18th July 2012 to meet the different stakeholders in preparation for the Southern Africa Exchange meeting. Dr. Nhongo was glad to report the positive response he received from the visit. Preparations are now in earnest and we expect that the meeting will be a flurry of activities that will inform the Social Protection debate.

Malawi was a natural choice for Southern Africa given the different programmes that are running geared towards poverty alleviation and risk mitigation for the vulnerable. These programmes which are receiving tremendous government support include: cash transfers, microfinance programmes, school feeding programmes, public works programmes and a village savings & loan programme. Malawi provides great learning opportunities for Southern Africa countries for the mere fact that they have been able to adapt different programmes to suit their context. The Concept Note of the Meeting will soon be posted on our site therefore stay with us for more details on the meeting

Kenya’s election campaigns for the fourth president and the first under the new constitutional dispensation are winding down to a nail biting conclusion. The top contenders have all launched manifestos that are geared towards changing the lives of Kenyans and the biggest winners so far seem to be the poor and vulnerable segments of the population. Unfortunately the promises remain pre-election pledges with no tangible evidence towards implementation until the individual candidate take office, a wait and see situation to contend with. In any case, the fact that Social Protection is forming a key debate agenda goes to show how important protecting the vulnerable in society is, given that the path to sustainable development is nothing short of inclusive.

Pessimistic suppositions aside, a change from the status quo of economic rhetoric to sustainable development hinged on inclusive long term models have now encapsulated African campaigns. These policy orientations are looking at building resilience among populations that are most susceptible to shocks of daily living. In this regard the key question is to what extent are these promises deliverable? The sitting president of Ghana, His Excellency John Mahama, during his campaigns appreciated the value of Social Protection as a viable strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Having pledged to establish a Ministry dedicated to Social Protection if the Ghanaian population deemed him fit for office, now Ghanaians champion Social Protection through the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection.

Currently, the trend among political parties in Kenya is to look at viable options to address poverty through policies that not only foster economic growth but also enhance inclusiveness and long term sustainability. Social Protection is one such policy that builds the resilience of the most vulnerable and provides them with crucial avenues to sustenance that prevents them from falling further into poverty say during old age or building their asset base. Social Protection in Kenya primarily looks at three very distinct areas: Health (Accessibility and Affordability, most popular and controversial being the provisions for the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Social Security (highly preoccupied with pensions) and Social Assistance. Social Assistance is perhaps one of the key congruent of Social Protection. Most people may not know it as Social Protection but rather look at Cash Transfer Programmes, School Feeding Programmes, Public Works Programmes, Food for Work Programmes, Emergency Relief Programmes to name but a few. As the African organization that seeks to harmonize international, regional and national instruments for Social Protection, by building capacity for the grassroots (Civil Society Organizations), who in turn effectively engage in Social Protection processes, we would like to endorse this shift in policy focus.

Importantly, the APSP would like to call on the political parties in Kenya to ensure that once they take up office they effect their pre-election pledges specifically with regards to Social Protection. We are very pleased to note that major parties are talking about Social Protection in their manifestos. The 50th anniversary elections (2013) have clearly outlined the importance of Social Protection and whichever way the elections go, we hope to be assured that the most vulnerable are protected. For good measure we would like to single out key provisions that have been made with regard to Social Protection.

Manifestos have touched on increasing access to primary health, increasing access to micro-credit, establishing tax incentives for pension savings, a rights based approach to Social Protection enshrined within basic human rights provisions in the constitution, cash transfers run from county governments with a goal of universal coverage, reducing the cost of living, introducing basic minimum packages for workers to name but a few.

These provisions are critical as has been proven in countries across the global which have effectively instituted Social Protection programmes that have a ripple effect on the economy as well as in the lives of the most poor and vulnerable. The expansion of cash transfer programmes for instance has been known to increase school attendance, nutrition, productivity, enhance local business as well as empower vulnerable members of society. It is up to the political leadership and all stakeholders to live up to their duty of common humanity and protect vulnerable members of society. Is this not the true measure of society, how it treats the weak amongst them?

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