South Sudan hosts consultative meeting on the National Social Protection Policy

02 May 2013

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The Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare (MGCSW) hosted a stakeholders’consultative meeting to validate the National Social Protection Policy on Thursday 18 April 2013 at Juba Regency Hotel. With support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the Ministry has drafted the first National Social Protection Policy.  Ms. Regina Ossa Lullo, Acting Undersecretary stated “This policy seeks to address the adverse effects of poverty and high levels of vulnerability through safeguarding and promoting human development through increasing the reach and coverage of essential social services in an inclusive manner.”

This policy builds on the Government of South Sudan's commitment to protect the most vulnerable and reduce poverty as articulated in the 2011 Transitional Constitution, the South Sudan Development Plan (SSDP 2011-2013) and Vision 2040.  Mr. Anjani Kumar, World Bank representative, stated “The Government of South Sudan recognized the importance of social protection and that is why it is included in the social and human development pillar of the SSDP.  Mr. Peter Sukole, Advisor to the MGCSW explained why the policy was necessary “Our statistics tell our story.  Poverty in South Sudan is widespread – over half of the population, 51% live below the national poverty line.” Included in this document are social protection interventions, strategies for resource mobilization, an institutional social protection framework as well as an information campaign to educate the public on social protection interventions and encourage discussion on this topic. 

Proposed social protection interventions seek to provide social assistance to the poor and vulnerable as well as foster economic participation of at risk populations.  The first approach includes a cash transfer for families with children, a school feeding programme, grants and support services for war veterans, support of caretakers and a scholarship for girls. The second approach focuses on providing vocational skills, facilitating private sector participation, and providing temporary employment to empower people and help ensure they do not slip into poverty.  Mr. Balázs Horváth, County Director, UNDP stressed the positive impact of well formulated cash transfer programmes, stating “Social protection programmes and cash transfers are spreading across the Global South and increasingly becoming part of national development strategies. In the short term they reduce vulnerability, poverty levels and ameliorate suffering. In the medium term, they allow many poor people to enhance their human capital and pursue micro-level plans to increase their productivity and incomes.” He added that development partners can assist the Government in making social protection politically attractive and fiscally affordable.

The policy in its entirety is estimated to cost USD 240 million or approximately 2% of GDP; however it is planned that the social protection policy will be implemented incrementally.  Ms. Yasmin Ali Haque, Country Representative, UNICEF stated “Lessons from around the world show that social protection programmes are affordable”. 

The validation workshop was an opportunity for Government, representatives from key state ministries, development partners, civil society organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders to voice their views on the proposed strategies and contribute to the shape of the National Social Protection Policy.  Following the presentation, discussion and input included concerns related to interventions that will empower adult women, address female illiteracy, educate mothers on nutrition and a stronger focus on girls education.  It was noted that the Policy should examine and address the causes of school drop-outs, include a strategy for managing rural to urban migration, and have policies for street children and youth who are in trouble with the law.  Laura Chappell, Economic Adviser, DFID explained “People in urban areas must also be included in social protection to bolster demand for food, which can translate into increased opportunity for the rural areas”.  Lastly it was noted that the proposed interventions for the disabled concentrated on those disabled from the war and that all people with disabilities should be included in these interventions.

Going forward, the National Social Protection Poilicy will be revised to include the recommendations following this validation workshop before it is presented to the Social Service Cluster, Council of Ministers and the Legislative Assembly specialised committee for final review and approval.  The policy will then be launched at the National Social Protection Conference in September 2013.

For further information, please contact:

Marguerite Nowak, Team Leader Communications, United Nations Development Programme, South Sudan marguerite.nowak@undp.org Cell: 095 619 1254