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Making Social Protection Systems in Africa More Responsive to Crisis

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The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development together with UNICEF and the World Bank, are holding a 5-day conference to discuss how social protection programmes can be better tailored to provide timely and effective support to the poor and vulnerable in crisis situations.

The five-day gathering will bring together the Community of Practice (CoP) on Cash Transfers which includes close to 100 practitioners from Government, development partners, local and international NGOs, private sector, academia and researchers to share experiences and learn from each other on issues related to social cash transfer programs and social protection. As such programmes continue to expand across Africa, the meeting will focus on how to make social protection systems in the region more responsive to shocks.

“The call for social protection programmes is not only based on human rights or moral grounds, but on the belief and fact that social protection is an important instrument for economic growth. It is an investment in human capital development which is no less important than investments in physical infrastructure,” said Hon Janat Mukwaya, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

Countries in Africa have common characteristics of high poverty, high unemployment, high dependency ratios, natural and man-made disasters, and high disease burden. All these require substantial investments in social protection interventions and yet today most of the countries are performing at less than 2 per cent of GDP investment in social protection.

Social security is a human right and a social and economic necessity. It is a core function of development policy emphasized by the Sustainable Development Goals / Agenda 2030. While safeguarding the right to social protection is an obligation of the State, it remains a shared responsibility with partners and citizens.

The Government of Uganda has adopted the National Social Protection Policy, and Intergrated it in its National Development Plan (NDPII), underscoring the importance of social protection in addressing risks and vulnerabilities. Efforts are underway to build a comprehensive national social protection system, including adoption of the policy implementation roadmap, putting in place the national coordination architecture, and a single registry.

Several social protection interventions currently under implementation have demonstrated strong evidence of the positive impact on communities, notably:

  • Direct income support interventions such as the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) now in 47 districts of Uganda reaching 153,700 beneficiaries. Under this program, the number of households eating fewer than two meals per day fell more than twice, attendance rates in primary and secondary schools rose nearly three times, while employment increased by 50 percent.
  • Disaster Risk Financing in Karamoja region of Uganda reaching 33,000 beneficiaries.
  • Labour intensive public works under phase three of the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund in Eastern and Northern Uganda reaching 31,386 beneficiaries.
  • Others include pensions for public servants and NSSF for contributory social security.

“Social protection programmes help households and communities to recover from crisis or disaster. Working through government systems and strengthening local capacity to respond effectively can prevent families from falling into poverty,” said Christina Malmberg Calvo, Country Manager World Bank in Uganda

In the Africa region and beyond, there is evidence to show that social protection programmes targeting lifecycle risks and vulnerabilities that people face at different stages in life have an impact on health and well-being of recipients.

“With over 56 per cent of the population below 18 years of age Uganda’s vision to become a middle-income country by 2040 remains highly contingent on the Government’s ability to safeguard children’s rights.” said Dr. Doreen Mulenga, UNICEF Representative in Uganda.

Given the drive to ensure social protection systems in the region are more shock-responsive, this meeting of the Community of Practice (COP) represents an invaluable tool for learning and knowledge exchange, and will contribute to the adoption of innovative approaches to alleviate the burden of emerging global challenges on vulnerable populations.

BACKGROUND

Social protection in Uganda

The National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) and Programme Plan of Interventions were approved by the Cabinet in November 2015. The Government of Uganda under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) has been implementing the Expanding Social Protection Programme since June 2010 and has undertaken the rollout of the Senior Citizens Grant to all districts beginning with 55 by 2020. The core of the Ugandan social protection system includes direct income support programmes, which provide small but regular transfers to targeted individuals and households and guarantee a minimum level of income security.

Community of Practice (CoP) of Cash Transfers in Africa

The CoP was launched in December 2011 with the purpose to share lessons and experiences between countries in Africa operating social cash transfer programs. To date, the Anglophone CoP has 35-member countries grouped into Anglophone and Francophone groups. The member countries of the Anglophone group are: Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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Development

Modi Urges All Countries to Embrace Sustainable Lifestyles

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India used his address to the Davos Agenda 2022 to call on all countries to shift from a throwaway culture towards more sustainable lifestyles. Modi emphasized that while India is home to 17% of the world’s population, it contributes only 5% of global emissions.

“It is very essential that we move away from today’s take-make-use-dispose economy and towards a circular economy,” he said. India, which co-launched the International Solar Alliance at COP26 to ensure universal access to affordable solar energy, today generates 40% of its energy from non-fossil sources. Modi underlined that the next phase of India’s growth will be “green, clean, sustainable and reliable”.

The prime minister questioned the ability of the world’s multilateral organizations to meet challenges that did not exist when they were created. He said that reforming these institutions is “the responsibility of every democratic country”. In a clear call for greater global cooperation, he said: “Today, more than ever before, countries need each other’s help – this is the only path to a better future.” He offered India’s vision of One Earth One Health as a means of responding to global challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change.

India is an entrepreneurial powerhouse that has created 10,000 new start-ups in the past six months and over 40 unicorns in 2021, Modi said, propelling the country into the top three in the world for billion-dollar new ventures. Its digital infrastructure is developing rapidly, with over 4.4 billion transactions taking place on its United Payments interface in the past month alone. Over the period 2020-2021, India attracted $82 billion in foreign direct investment – a new record. Modi said India is committed to becoming a trusted partner for global supply chains.

In a bid to improve the ease of doing business, Modi outlined the measures his government is taking to reduce government intervention to the minimum. He has done away with over 25,000 tax compliances in the past year and deregulated most sectors for investment, except for defence, aerospace and telecoms. His government is investing $1.3 trillion on connectivity-related infrastructure through its GatiShakti National Master Plan, which includes connecting over 6,000 villages through optical fibre. The plan’s aim, he said, is to “give new impetus to seamless connectivity for movement of goods, people and services”. India is also investing $26 billion to boost manufacturing and resilient supply chains.

The Prime Minister also spoke to the importance of collective and synchronized action to face global challenges. He highlighted new technology as an important area for countries to act together, “Another example is cryptocurrency. Given the kind of technology it is associated with, the decisions taken by a single country will be insufficient to deal with its challenges.”

Modi said India enters 2022 “infused with self-confidence”. Its economic growth is projected to hit 8.5%. It has already administered 1.6 billion COVID-19 vaccines. And, he added: “Our multilingual, multicultural environment is a great strength [that] teaches us not just to think of ourselves in times of crisis but to work in the best interests of the world.”

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Finance

China: $1.9 Trillion Boost and 88M Jobs by 2030 Possible with Nature-Positive Solutions

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Nearly $9 trillion, two-thirds of China’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is at risk of disruption from nature loss. Making China’s economy ‘nature-positive’ could generate $1.9 trillion in additional annual revenue and create 88 million jobs by 2030.

These are the findings of the latest report by the World Economic Forum Seizing Business Opportunities in China’s Transition Towards a Nature-positive Economy.

“Businesses can create a virtuous cycle between people, planet and profit. Investing in and living in harmony with nature will better secure sustained performance and prosperity. Chinese businesses can harness technologies and innovation, while adopting and promoting the UN Global Biodiversity Framework to collectively shape a more resilient and beautiful future for China,” said Gim Huay Neo, Managing Director, World Economic Forum.

The new report, in collaboration with Golden Bee, shows how significant business opportunities can be created if new business practices are adopted across three socio-economic systems: food, land and ocean use; infrastructure and the built environment; and energy and extractives. These systems are interconnected and can unlock untapped economic potential.

The report highlights progress to date, provides case studies and offers recommendations to accelerate new growth across these three systems.

– Food, land and ocean use: Six transitions can generate almost $565 billion in additional annual revenue and create 34 million new jobs by 2030. One of transitions identified would be – eco-tourism, projected to create some $53 billion of additional revenue in China – providing the largest business opportunity in accelerated ecosystem restoration and avoided land and ocean over-exploitation.

– Infrastructure and built environment: Five transitions to transform this system could add roughly $590 billion in annual revenue and create 30 million new jobs by 2030. An example of a key opportunity in this system’s transformation is promoting the use of smart parking – a market worth $94 billion in 2020 but expected to grow to around $219 billion by 2025.

– Energy and extractives: Four transitions could create almost $740 billion in additional revenue per year and 23 million new jobs by 2030. Improving how resources are used or reused throughout the vehicle lifecycle could create roughly $122 billion of commercial value and over 3.7 million jobs by 2030 in China.

“Nature is critical to China’s continued prosperity and social development. It is also at the heart of its ‘ecological civilization’ vision and intrinsically linked to its climate agenda. While our economy is currently facing non-negligible risk from nature loss, this report shows that taking bold action to ‘put nature first’ can secure our economic, social and climate ambitions while creating substantial business value.” said Justin Lin Yifu, Dean, Institute of New Structural Economics, Peking University, Beijing.

The report also sets out how China is well-placed to lead the transition to a carbon-neutral and nature-positive economy by delivering its “ecological civilization” vision and implementing its new national biodiversity conservation strategy.

The potential gains for China in transforming its economy represent nearly 20% of global business opportunities and jobs creation. As the world enters a decisive decade for action on nature and climate, Chinese government and businesses need to work closely to raise global ambition on biodiversity commitments, drive policy and regulatory changes, lead technological innovations, and mobilize investment.

“China is uniquely positioned to lead a global movement towards a nature-positive, carbon-neutral future. As the president and host of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s COP 15, it provides leadership in setting forth an integrated agenda which builds societal, economic and ecological resilience.” said Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

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Health & Wellness

UN-backed COVAX mechanism delivers its 1 billionth COVID-19 vaccine dose

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photo © UNICEF/Aimable Twiringiyima

With a 1.1 million jab delivery in Rwanda this weekend, the World Health Organization’s multilateral initiative to provide equal access to vaccines for all reached the one billion milestone.

Along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Vaccine Alliance GAVI, and partners, WHO has led the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history with deliveries to 144 countries to date.

According to a press release published on Sunday, as of 13 January 2022, out of 194 countries members of WHO, 36 have vaccinated less than 10% of their population, and 88 less than 40%.

COVAX’s ambition was compromised by hoarding/stockpiling in rich countries, catastrophic outbreaks leading to borders and supply being locked. And a lack of sharing of licenses, technology, and know-how by pharmaceutical companies meant manufacturing capacity went unused”, the agency explained.

On 24 February 2021, Ghana became the first country in the world to receive vaccines through COVAX when 600,000 doses of the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine were delivered to Accra. 

The work that remains

COVAX is currently working with governments, manufacturers and partners to ensure that when countries receive vaccines, they can get them to people quickly.

“The work that has gone into this (1 billion) milestone is only a reminder of the work that remains”, the UN’s health agency underscored.

They added that with updated vaccines in the pipeline, citizens should demand that governments and pharmaceutical companies share health tools globally and “bring an end to the death and destruction cycles of this pandemic, limit new variants and drive a global economic recovery”.

COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched by WHO in April 2020 in response to the pandemic.

The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. 

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