Sweden Signs an Agreement with UNICEF to Build an Integrated Safety Net System for the Most Vulnerable Women and Children in Ethiopia

The Government avails US$ 9.2 million contribution to implement the programme in five years

12 October 2017, ADDIS ABABA – The Government of Sweden provided US$9.2 million to UNICEF Ethiopia to support a national integrated safety net system for the most vulnerable women and children in both rural and urban parts of the country. The initial phase will provide direct cash support to 1,000 households in Amhara region and 1,000 households in Addis Ababa with the objective to scale up innovations for the 8 million Rural Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) beneficiaries and the envisaged 4.7 million urban poor who are going to benefit from the Urban PSNP. The programme will be implemented from 2017 to 2022.

The objective of this programme is to implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures which ensure increased access to a comprehensive package of social protection interventions and services to poor and vulnerable citizens coping with social and economic risks, vulnerabilities and deprivations. It also aims to strengthen the Government’s capacity to develop, implement, coordinate and monitor a national, child-sensitive social protection system in the country.

At the signing ceremony, H.E Mr Torbjörn Petterson, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia said, “In spite of existing challenges, it is impressive to see strong government commitment, financially as well as technically, to support the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP). Partnering with UNICEF in this particular endeavour, gives us leverage in terms of significant experience with previously supported pilot programmes which helped inform the design of PSNP 4.”

The first joint pilot project supported by UNICEF in Tigray, which MoLSA implemented between 2012-2015 together with the Tigray Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs (BoLSA), was guided by a rigorous evidence generation plan and demonstrated the role of community care structures and social workers. As a result, community care structures and social workers have since become crucial components of the national social protection system – a major milestone towards establishing a countrywide social welfare workforce.

Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia and Mr Torbjörn Petterson, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia signing the grant agreement. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/Demissew Bizuwerk

“This timely contribution from SIDA will allow us to build on the rich experience of these successful pilot interventions. We are also expanding existing multi-sectoral linkages and will explore synergies between different public social protection measures, for example between PSNP and Community Based Health Insurance,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. “We embrace this partnership with great enthusiasm since the outcome of the programme will extend beyond the pilot regions and further assist the Government of Ethiopia and UNICEF to develop a nationwide social protection system that is child sensitive and which prioritizes the most vulnerable and marginalized.”

Despite Ethiopia’s significant economic growth over the past decades, 32 per cent of Ethiopian children still live in poverty. Building an integrated and child sensitive social protection system, which focuses on those left behind, is a critical element in ensuring more inclusive development to the benefit of all children.

With the provision of access to an integrated social protection system in urban and rural areas, the programme aims to contribute to long-term poverty alleviation. In addition, the programme is expected to have a significant impact on the nutrition, health and education-related status of the target groups with a focus on adolescent girls. Furthermore, the proposed interventions will provide solid evidence to enable relevant government authorities to implement efficient and effective integrated social protection measures which will inform annual reviews of the social protection sector and future phases of national programmes such as the PSNP and the Urban PSNP.

 

Cash transfers recognized as most effective way to build resiliency among the poor 

Johannesburg/Addis Ababa- 15 November 2016 –  New evidence released today shows that social cash transfers are working in Africa, and that giving cash to families is leading to numerous positive outcomes, including reducing poverty among the most vulnerable.

 In a new book, From Evidence to Action: The Story of Cash Transfers and Impact Evaluations in Sub-Saharan Africa – launched in Johannesburg today – UNICEF, FAO, and other partners showcase the positive impacts cash transfer programmes have had in eight Sub-Saharan countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe).

“Cash transfers are enabling the poorest families to substantially increase food consumption and improve overall food security,” says Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, Regional Director for UNICEF in Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office. “While cash alone is not enough to solve all problems, it is increasingly helping families avoid negative coping strategies, such as taking children out of school, or selling off assets.”

At the Mail & Guardian “Critical Thinking Forum” organized to launch the book, Government and UN representatives discussed what’s working and what challenges remain with national social protection programmes across the region.

The new evidence finds that government-run cash transfer programmes are expanding across the continent, with national social protection strategies often including a cash component. While cash transfers in Africa tend to be provided unconditionally, many countries do include programme messaging to encourage school enrolment and periodic health and nutrition checks for children.

For several years there have been concerns that beneficiaries would waste money, however UNICEF and FAO gathered evidence across a 10-year period through the so-called Transfer Project, which clearly indicates that the majority of recipients are utilising cash transfers to better the living standards of their families, especially children.

Gathered evidence has also fostered strong collaboration among policymakers, development partners and researchers and led to improved social cash transfer policies and practices in Africa. The book can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2eqXgNo

The new book launched today in Johannesburg features a chapter on the evaluation of the pilot social cash transfer programme in Tigray region which started in 2011. Which was also named Best of UNICEF research for 2016

The programme was introduced by the Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs in Tigray region with support from UNICEF in two woredas (districts), Abi Adi and Hintalo Wajirat – with the aim to improve the quality of life for vulnerable children, older persons, and persons with disabilities.

0x5a3612In Ethiopia, the level of children’s deprivation remains high. In comparison with sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopian children face one of the highest multidimensional deprivation rates. Of all the child well‑being dimensions used for comparison – nutrition, health, education, housing, water, sanitation, information and protection against violence – 43 million children in Ethiopia are deprived in at least two of the dimensions. An estimated 17.5 million children live on less than US$1.25 per day.

Ethiopia aims to build a comprehensive and integrated social protection system with the vision for all Ethiopians to enjoy social and economic well-being, security and social justice. The Government is committed to establishing the appropriate system, which will ensure the existing regulations and policies are implemented to address poverty and related vulnerabilities. UNICEF’s social protection programme is providing the required support to make the social protection system a reality.

UNICEF’s social protection programme collaborates with the Government of Ethiopia to establish an integrated social protection system that benefits all Ethiopians, particularly the most vulnerable children and their families. One of the key intervention includes providing support to the operationalization of Community Care Coalitions (CCCs) that identify and provide support in communities to vulnerable persons, including children. These are community-led groups that serve as a support mechanism for the vulnerable populations in the community. CCCs are hybrid organizations with representation from both government and civil society organizations.

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.