Major international workshop on social protection in Africa

Addis Ababa meeting aims to expand impact of government-led cash transfer programmes

A silent revolution has been taking place in Africa, with governments expanding investment in social protection and national cash transfer programmes. Direct, predictable cash payments for poor and vulnerable households now operate in nearly 40 African countries. To help governments answer questions of how to most effectively improve outcomes for poor populations in a cost-effective manner, the Transfer Project will convene a major international workshop for policymakers, researchers, and UN experts in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 6-8 April 2016. The participants will discuss rigorous research findings and future directions of government cash transfer programmes in Africa and beyond.

Thumb prints to certify issue of Pilot Social Protection Scheme
Thumb prints to certify issue of Pilot Social Protection Scheme ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2012/Getachew

The workshop timing is particularly important as countries are in the process of developing their strategies to address the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Notably, the SDGs specifically target numerous outcomes with underlying poverty-related factors, which can be improved through mechanisms like cash transfers. The workshop will provide a unique opportunity for those crafting policy and those examining the evidence to discuss lessons learned and new ways forward.

Sessions will provide results from ongoing impact evaluations, as well as discuss prospective evaluations highlighting innovative programme designs. This includes discussions around transfers combined with other complementary interventions, known as “cash plus” programming, as they relate to education, health and nutrition, food security, productive activities, safe transitions to adulthood for youth, and overall household resilience.

UNICEF Ethiopia and FAO Ethiopia are jointly hosting the event, with Transfer Project partners from across UNICEF, FAO’s From Protection to Production (PtoP) Project, Save the Children UK and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill leading various sessions. The approximately 80 participants will include government partners implementing cash transfer programmes and social protection experts from academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and international development agencies. Representatives from 14 African countries will be in attendance, and for the first time, 4 Asian countries will also participate in the event.

UNICEF’s support to the Government of Ethiopia is built on various social protection initiatives to establish an integrated system approach to address children’s multidimensional poverty including: (i) the development and implementation of the national social protection policy and strategy; (ii) the strengthening of Federal and Regional government bodies working on social protection; (iii) the provision of technical assistance on the design and implementation of social protection programmes; (iv) the strengthening of social protection systems and (v) the generation of a strong evidence base in the area of social protection. 

In that context UNICEF works closely with the National Social Protection Platform (NSPP) to coordinate all social protection interventions and stakeholders in Ethiopia. The platform is jointly chaired by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD). In collaboration with the National Social Protection Partners, including UNICEF, the first National Social Protection Policy of Ethiopia has been drafted and was adopted by the 77th Council of Ministers in November 2014. The policy is the main reference document to guide the social protection regulatory framework and forms the basis for a comprehensive social protection system in the country.

In addition to the higher level policy work, UNICEF has also been working with the Government of Ethiopia, the Productive Safety Nets Programme (PSNP) and MoLSA in particular for the implementation of Social Cash Transfers programmes in the regional states of Tigray, Oromia and SNNP. All of these interventions have been, and continue to be, rigorously evaluated to support evidence based policy decision in Ethiopia.

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