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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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New Programme Aims to Improve Infrastructure Procurement Capacity in Africa

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The Africa Infrastructure Fellowship Programme (AIFP) was today announced by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

The World Economic Forum, the Global Infrastructure Hub and the private investment firm Meridiam have partnered to create the Africa Infrastructure Fellowship Programme (AIFP), an initiative to help African governments strengthen internal procurement capability by training and retaining key officials in procurement agencies, with the aim of attracting greater private-sector investment to Africa.

The components of the programme will be tailored to the needs of each country but, at its core, the AIFP will be made up of the following elements:

  • Three-day introduction to infrastructure procurement and networking with peers (provided by GI Hub)
  • Tutoring and examination through the Multilateral Development Banks’ Private Public Partnerships certification course
  • Two-week intensive course in infrastructure procurement (provided by selected universities)
  • Two-month placement in a private-sector company’s infrastructure team
  • Ongoing support for 12 months following the programme, including twice-yearly AIFP-related events hosted by the GI Hub

“It is important to emphasize that this project is in line with the mission of the Forum, to improve the state of the world. It is necessary to highlight the importance of jointly solving the challenges that surround the development of infrastructure at the global level,” said Denise Burnet, Head of Event Management and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum.

Chris Heathcote, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Infrastructure Hub, said that, despite ongoing efforts, attracting private-sector investment into Africa remains a major challenge, and is a barrier to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“In order to meet the UN SDGs and the demands of accelerating economic and population growth in the African continent, we forecast that these countries will need to spend $7.6 trillion to 2040. Our analysis forecasts that the continent will invest $4.3 trillion based on current trends, exposing an investment gap of $3.3 trillion, or 43%. Investors will only invest in countries where market conditions are favourable, and it’s our goal through this initiative to assist in creating an environment that is conducive to private-sector investment in infrastructure,” said Heathcote.

Thierry Déau, Chief Executive Officer of Meridiam, added: “As long-term investors, we are convinced that key success factors to projects rely on excellent synergies between the private and public sector. We chose to accompany the AIFP initiative, convinced that this agile organization based on strong commitments of stakeholders is the perfect tool to accelerate the deployment of sustainable infrastructure in Africa.”

Africa has the highest population growth globally, and a number of its countries rank highly in terms of economic growth; and yet these countries also have the lowest growth in infrastructure stock.

The AIFP will be a six-month capability-building programme that will give participants a robust understanding of procurement, governance and the role of the private sector in infrastructure projects. The programme will provide participants with a mix of theoretical and practical training, opportunities to work within major private-sector companies, and lead to the establishment of a strong network of infrastructure practitioners across Africa.

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How ICT is transforming and making our societies more resilient

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Together with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other partners, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has organized a side event at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to explore how information and communication technology (ICT) is transforming and making our societies more resilient.

The HLPF, which runs through to 18 July, brings together more than a thousand government, business and civil society leaders. The Forum, which meets annually under the auspices of ECOSOC, is a platform for the exchange of experiences in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), identifying gaps and lessons learned.

A selected multi-stakeholder panel at the side event, “ICT enabling the transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”, included government, business and the UN. Participants discussed how digital technologies are improving productivity and competitiveness, pointing out that recent studies confirm that digitalization has immense potential that could deliver around $100 trillion in value to business and society over the next decade. It was also noted that digital solutions have the potential to enhance resource optimization and efficiency in water and energy consumption.

Providing a UN perspective, UNIDO’s Takeshi Nagasawa said, “The sustainable energy transition and Industry 4.0 share important characteristics that can be interconnected to pursue a sustainable energy transition. Such integrated approaches could be guided by the SDGs, which provide important target setting for energy, climate change and industry,” adding that UNIDO has “the capability and relevant portfolio to foster Industry 4.0 across all stages of industrial development.”

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Climate action: Organic waste as fuel for a circular economy

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The Secretariats of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have organized a workshop as part of the Regional Technical Expert Meetings on Mitigation (TEMs-M) and the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action. It was held during the Asia-Pacific Climate Week, taking place between 10 and 13 July in Singapore. The session on “Enabling waste-to-energy, industrial waste reuse and prevention solutions to achieve circular economy and boost climate action” brought together members of civil society, UN agencies and financial institutions.

The workshop presented waste-to-energy, in particular the use of organic agricultural waste as a source of fuel, as an integral part of achieving the circular economy and its associated social and environmental benefits. The circular economy transforms the currently prevailing linear model of ‘take-make-use-dispose’ into one based on closed cycles, ultimately powered by renewables.

Rene van Berkel, UNIDO Representative in India, said, “The circular economy is not to be constrained to a recycling economy, but is one that firstly, maximizes use of renewables; secondly, minimizes resource use for products and services; and thirdly, perpetually recycles and recovers residual wastes.”

Three case studies were presented and served as a basis for discussion. Brahmanand Mohanty, an independent energy and resource management expert, spoke about technical insights into aspects of waste-to-energy projects in Lao, Thailand and Cambodia. Abhishek Bansal, Head of Sustainability for Arvind Limited, talked about the private sector focusing on enhancing sustainability and promoting the idea of a circular economy across key inputs such as cotton, energy, water and chemicals. And Solomone Fifita, Manager of the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, presented on the circular economy concept, with a focus on waste-to-energy technologies through a policy/institutional perspective.

“Using waste as an alternative fuel is a key enabler for the circular economy, and practical solutions are already practiced in different sectors, for example, as alternative fuels in cement-making, and the production of biodiesel from spent cooking oils and of biogas from effluents,” van Berkel said. “It is time to scale up and speed up these solutions as a practical way to deliver on commitments in the Paris climate agreement.”

The Technical Expert Meetings on Mitigation (TEMs-M) facilitate the identification of policy options, practices and technologies with high mitigation potential. They bring interested parties together to examine in-depth opportunities to promote the implementation of and support for climate action. This event builds on a meeting held earlier this year.

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