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

 

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.

The latest copy of The Platform is now out.

Policy formulation, implementation and practice on the ground sometimes tend to disconnect. The envisioned good and the attendant benefits sometimes seem to fail to converge. Particularly in Social Protection programmes, challenges emerge right from the design stage, selection of beneficiaries and the roll out of the programmes. This is normally the case where programmes are targeted because of limited resources ending up with exclusion and inclusion errors. These errors refer to beneficiaries who are deserving of the benefits missing out on them and those not deserving being included, respectively. A monitoring and evaluation exercise is therefore crucial to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of the programme. Save the Children (Sweden) - ECAF, through the Africa Platform for Social Protection provided funding for a research on Children’s Protection Policies and Rights in Rwanda. The research area is one which is of particular interest to the African Union’s Department of Social Affairs. A validation meeting for the research held between 8th and 11th August 2012, was attended by the APSP’s Executive Director, Dr. Tavengwa Nhongo.

The research which was commissioned by the Rwanda Civil Society Platform (RCSP) assessed child protection policies, programs and interventions in the country. The relevance of the study was geared towards looking at gaps between child protection processes (policies, legal framework and intervention) and the reality on the ground. The entire process serves to create awareness on what is going on, on the ground, as well as in informing key policy design questions. In addition, the findings allow for the development of engagement strategies with the relevant stakeholders. The meeting that saw twenty seven (27) participants in all, drew representation from civil society, government, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Care, Handicap International, Plan, UNICEF etc.

On the report, Dr. Nhongo pointed out that unfortunately Africa had become notorious for developing excellent policies which gather dust on shelves, expressing hope that this particular report would catalyse action. However, for this to occur there needs to be collaboration among government departments as well as from the Civil Society. He reiterated the need to finalise the document ensuring that government buys in and owns the report. The process should then move to the use of recommendations from the report and sharing of the document to all stakeholders. It is very encouraging to note that this ground breaking report has been well received by different organizations which have read the preliminary draft and started employing sections of the report. UNICEF for instance has undertaken to support in making the report more concise, whereas Plan International has undertaken to carry out further assessments based on the report. Most encouraging is the fact that government has already began including policy amendments some of which were concluded in April 2012 for instance in the closure of a prison that mixed adults and children.

The report will be subjected to a final validation meeting that will draw in senior government officials as well as interested stakeholders. This exercise will come before the dissemination of the document to the general public. APSP’s hopes that the report will serve as a learning document for not only other platforms but also for governments which are seeking to engage in a similar process in respect to Social Protection policies and programmes, geared towards children. One such opportunity would be during the East African Exchange Workshop slated for later on this year in Rwanda, an event that allows different countries from the region to share experiences and practice in Social Protection. The Southern African Exchange Workshop is slated for September 2012 in Malawi.

RCSP in line with the report’s recommendations are developing a proposal to be submitted to UNICEF looking at key advocacy activities scheduled for the recent future. The full details of the report will be available on our website as soon as the report is launched, keep it here for more details.

 

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.

The National Budget gives a good indication of how government prioritizes sectors and programs in its planning for development. Social Protection is an area of poverty reduction that looks at the interests of the most poor and vulnerable in the country. The Living Conditions Monitoring Survey which monitors the living situation of the population reveals that a total of 60 percent of Zambia’s population are poor. And of these, 42 percent are extremely poor. Extreme poverty means that their incomes cannot afford to deliver a meal on the table for that household. Looking at the national budget for 2013 delivered by Finance Minister, Alexander Chikwanda as the first PF budget has very telling allocations which reveal where Government interest is in regard to poverty reduction.

Despite Zambia experiencing fairly high rates of economic growth in the past ten years, it has among the highest rates of inequality with a gini coefficient as high as 54 percent. The Gini Index is an internationally defined standard measure of inequality. This level of inequality only means that the market driven strategies of development have not done much to reduce poverty and inequality among the Zambian population.

Against the backdrop of undistributed economic growth, changing fiscal conditions, inflationary and political pressure, finance minister Alexander Chikwanda presented the 2012-13Budget. Though he reduced spending by the executive, he increased funding for defence. The budget was a heart-break for social assistance but it did allow a marginal increase to social assistance programs. This analysis considers the Budget component on Social protection:

Why Invest in Social Protection?

Social protection can have a positive impact on growth in anumber of ways. It can finance investment in health and education, protect assets thathelp people earn an income, encourage risk taking, promote participation in the labourmarket, and ease the pain of economic transition. There are inevitably trade-offs. Social protection, in reducing povertyand inequality, can also lead to greater social unity and a more stable environment forindividuals to work, save and invest. Social protection is a potentially important part of a strategy toincrease sustainable, poverty-reducing gfrowth.

Social Protection Budget Analysis

The Social Protection Budget accounts for 2.77 percent of the entire National Budget for 2013. In terms of rank, Social Protection is 15th out of 22 line items in share of national budget. This reveals a drop in comparison to 2012 when Social Protection received the 12th highest allocation of the National Budget. This means that although the nominal value to Social Protection has increased in 2013, the share in relation to national budget has reduced.

2012-2013 Rank based table of government allocation by Function

2012 Expenditure by Function

% of Govt Budget

Allocation (K’ Billion)

 2013 Expenditure by Function

% of Govt Budget

Allocation (K’ Billion)

Grand Total

100.00

27,698.30

Grand Total

100.00

          32,212.20

General Public Services Executive

29.98

8,304.80

Economic Affairs

27.62

            8,897.00

Economic Affairs

29.32

8,120.00

General Public Services Executive

26.20

            8,441.10

General Government Services

26.72

7,400.50

General Government Services

18.83

            6,064.70

Education

17.51

4,850.50

Education

17.47

            5,626.80

Transport

16.82

4,658.80

Transport

13.63

            4,392.10

Health

9.31

2,579.90

Health

11.29

            3,638.10

Agriculture Forestry and Fishing

6.13

1,698.00

Defence

6.32

            2,035.60

Defence

5.95

1,648.50

Agriculture Forestry and Fishing

5.79

            1,865.40

Fuel and Energy

4.95

1,369.70

Fuel and Energy

4.49

            1,445.00

Public Order and Safety

3.67

1,017.40

Public Order and Safety

4.18

            1,347.00

Executive

3.09

856.1

Executive

3.17

            1,020.40

Social Protection

2.37

655.6

Housing and Community Amenities

3.13

            1,007.80

Legislation

2.15

594.7

General Economic, Commercial and labour

2.88

               926.80

Centralised Administrative Services

1.31

362.5

Social Protection

2.77

               892.20

Housing and Community Amenities

1.27

352.9

Legislation

2.00

               643.50

General Economic, Commercial and labour

0.96

266.1

Centralised Administrative Services

1.26

               405.70

Recreation, Culture and Religion

0.49

136.9

Recreation, Culture and Religion

0.78

               252.30

Tourism

0.19

52.6

Communications

0.38

               122.70

Communications

0.14

39

Mining

0.25

                 81.20

Environment Protection

0.11

31.8

Environment Protection

0.23

                 74.20

Mining

0.00

 

Tourism

0.20

                 63.80

 

Social Protection includes a number of programs aimed at reducing the effects of poverty suffered by the poorest in Zambia. The allocation towards social Protection in 2013 isK892.2 billion. This shows an increase by 236 billion from the K 655.6 that was allocated to Social Protectionin 2012. The total allocation to social protection in the 2013 budget is 36.1% higher than the previous budget. This is a commendable upward adjustment and reflects a level of commitment to the welfare of the poor and vulnerable in Zambia. However, an actual analysis of the way the figures are distributed within the allocation to Social protection is what constitutes the major concern for poverty reduction efforts.

Of the SP budget K616.90 is dedicated to Public Pension servicing. This represents a nominal increase of 142.70 billion ZMK in 2013. However, as a percentage share of the total Social Protection allocation, the share to Public Service pension has reduced from 72 percent in 2012 to 69% in 2013;representing a 3 percentage point drop in share of Public Service Pension servicing. This reduction in significance of pension servicing translates into an increased share for tax financed social assistance programs. However, the 3 %age point inrease is not sufficient to address the high incidence of poverty and vulnerability. By implication, still over 2/3 of the SP budget in 2013 goes to servicing pension arrears.

The allocation to Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) in 2012 is 30.1% higher and the allocation to Social Cash Transfers has been increased by 51% from 55 billion in 2012 to 83.1 in 2013.  See table below

2012 Expenditure by Function

Allocation (K’ Billion)

% of Govt Budget

 2013 Expenditure by Function

Allocation (K’ Billion)

% change

% of Govt Budget

%age point increase as share of budget

%age point decrease as share of budget

Growth Social Protection

655.6

2.37

Social Protection

                          892.20

36.1%

2.77

0.40

 

           o/w Public Service Pension Fund

474.2

1.71

           o/w Public Service Pension Fund

                          616.90

30.1%

1.92

0.20

 

                   Social Cash Transfer

55

0.20

                   Social Cash Transfer

                            83.10

51.1%

0.26

0.06

 

Grand Total

27,698.30

100.00

Grand Total

                     32,212.20

16.3%

100.00

0.00

0.00

 

Of the balance of the allocation for SP, K83.1 billion, is allocated to Social Cash Transfers reflecting an increase of ZMK 28.1 Billion from 2012. The balance of 192.2 billion is distributed among several Social Assistance Programs including the Food Security Pack, Public Welfare Assistance Scheme, Street Children’s programs, women’s empowerment fund, School Feeding Program, etc. This represents a paltry 22% of the total social Protection budget spread across a number of important social assistance programs. This gives a reflection of token recognition of such programs.

What the amount means to Poverty Reduction

The SNDP outlines the target beneficiaries for tax financed social assistance programs as low capacity and incapacitated households. Incapacitated households generally lack the ability to move themselves out of poverty and are not reached by mainstream economic growth. The draft social protection strategy estimates that 10% of the Zambian population is incapacitated and 20% is vulnerable. With the current allocation to the social safety nets, if the 10% were reached universally, it implies that;

The population of incapacitated people is therefore: 1,304, 650.8. (ie. 10% of the Zambian population)The total budget allocation to social safety nets has this implication on the population of incapacitated people: ZMK 275,300,000,000.00/1, 304, 650.8= ZMK 211,014.32. This translates to a per capita benefit level ofZMK 211,014.32 for each incapacitated person in the nation on an annual basis. On a monthly basis this translates to ZMK 17,584.53 to a household. If on the other hand the 20% vulnerable were targeted this would cut the per capita benefit level by half. This level of low allocations to the extreme poor may be an important pointer to why the country is not recording a significant reduction in rural and extreme poverty levels as reflected in the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey of 2010.

Conclusion

The Budget as it stands bears the risk of leaving out the poorest and most marginalized of the Zambian population. With a share of 2.77 percent of the national budget addressing the needs of 42 percent of the population, poverty for them will not reduce significantly. This means that the 2013 budget has not made a significant dent in redistributive equity. While the slight increase in allocation to the Social Protection budget is commendable, the level of increase does not reflect true concern for the situation of the poor and vulnerable in our society. With this in mind, Government will struggle to achieve MDG 1 which intends to reduce extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. Poverty and hunger have a huge effect on the productivity and cognitive ability of a population and if this is not addressed, Government will continually have to invest in measures that are curative rather than preventive in addressing poverty.

 

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