Effective social protection

A meeting of social protection experts, government officials from 14 countries in Africa and Asia and development partners gathered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Tuesday called for more participation of beneficiaries and civil society in the implementation of programmes to improve service delivery.

Social protection, which includes cash transfers and pensions, is widely recognised as playing a critical role in addressing poverty and inequality.

This is acknowledged in many international and regional frameworks, including the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also evidenced by the dramatic increase in the number of countries working to expand their social protection systems over the last decade.

In April 2016, the semi-autonomous Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar was the first in East Africa to provide universal, state-funded social pensions to people 70 years old and above. The government allocated 6.5 billion Tanzanian shillings (USD 2. 86 million) for the implementation of the scheme.

This week, the Government of Kenya launched an ambitious social pension for its citizens 70 years and above with a monthly pension of 2,000 Kenyan shillings (USD20).

There is hope that mainland Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and others will follow suit to expand their cash transfers programmes so that they benefit all older people.

However, Dr Prafulla Mishra, Africa Regional Director at HelpAge International, urged governments to improve the delivery of social protection by engaging recipients and broader society in decision-making and accountability.

“Social accountability involves governments taking steps to develop effective complaints and redress mechanisms, and making design choices that strengthen programme delivery,” he said.

Camilus Kassala, an elderly person who advocates for social justice said, today, the challenges facing older people are overwhelming and therefore, there is need for policy makers to be innovative. “Governments should consider both traditional social protection schemes as well as corporate social accountability to reach to as many vulnerable people as possible,” he said.

Alice Livingstone, HelpAge International’s Social Protection Advisor said, “ social accountability requires civil society to monitor social protection delivery at the local level, and to advocate for change in policy choices and ensure that programmes are implemented to the satisfaction of beneficiaries. Effective collaboration between civil society and governments is key to this approach.”

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