Examine ways to finance the sustainability of social protection initiatives in countries where domestic financing are limited were proposed major challenges during the two-day International Seminar on Social Protection in Africa. The meeting, held on 8 and 9 April in Dakar, Senegal, brought together 13 African countries and Brazil in a series of debates, discussions and exchange of experiences on implementation of sustainable development agendas, economic growth, income transfer programs, health promotion, nutrition and education, reducing levels of inequality and structural weaknesses.
“We bear the moral responsibility to deploy policies and instruments which have proven effective in contributing to the fight against poverty, addressing vulnerabilities and building people’s resilience against future shocks,” said Ms Ruby Sandhu-Rojon Deputy Director for Africa at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “Social protection measures anchored in human rights and sustainable social, economic and environmental development have the power to alleviate poverty, boost the resilience of the African middle-class, and drive the transformation of the continent”, said Ms Ruby Sandhu-Rojon at the opening of the seminar (Her full key note speech is available here).
According to data presented at the seminar, despite accelerated economic growth over the past decade, the growth process has not benefitted the poorest, and inequalities persist across Africa. Social protection coverage remains very low. Only 20 percent of the poorest people on the continent, some 44 million people, have access to social protection, such as targeted interventions in health, nutrition or cash transfers.If put in place, investments in social protection, as part of a broader sustainable development agenda, would contribute to improving the lives of the additional 370 million people living below the USD 1.25 a day poverty line.
“African countries are making progress on social protection, but a life-cycle approach that addresses vulnerabilities at different stages of life – from babies to the elderly – is key if we are to achieve our vision of prosperity, where every single African life matters,” said Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Commission.
While countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho and Mauritius, have adopted social protection policies and programmes, such as targeted school feeding and cash transfers, many others still face considerable challenges in formulating and implementing social protection measures.
Initiative of the African Union, the governments of Brazil and Senegal, UNDP, the World Centre for Sustainable Development (Centre RIO +) and Lula Institute, the seminar’s recommendations on how to promote equal access to social protection in a sustainable manner, will be presented at the ministerial meeting of the African Union on social development, labor and employment, later this month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.