Roadmap to strengthen social protection systems endorsed
Government together with the EU endorsed a Roadmap to strengthen social protection systems in Namibia last week in a final outcome document called a “Roadmap.”
A three day meeting convened by the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, the Finnish Government, EU and UNICEF, all committed to do more to expand efforts that ensure inclusive and sustainable social protection systems for the most vulnerable.
“The strategy is simple,” said UNICEF Representative, Micaela Marques de Sousa,. “If equal investments are made in the cash and care components; grants are based on current inflation to enable families to maintain their dignity, coupled with an efficient and well-financed service delivery – Then with no doubt we will be building an effective and inclusive social protection system,” she added.
The Minister of Poverty Reduction and Social Welfare Rev. Kameeta said, “Participants reiterated that they would continue to generate evidence to enable the government of Namibia to build sustainable capacities at the local level, allocate budgets and provide better oversight to hold executives accountable.”
In a country where an estimated 285,000 children (close to 20% of the population) are reached through social grants, participants highlighted the need for a multifaceted approach (which includes mix of programmes, policies, social welfare support, as well as cash transfers,) to address child poverty in Namibia, Kameeta said a comprehensive Social Protection System should be socially inclusive.
“A system that recognises the right of each and every Namibian to live a dignified life,” he added.
Furthermore participates acknowledged that while committing to ensuring access to Social Protection programmes to all its vulnerable citizens, many of the poorest are still missing out faced with indirect barriers that prevent them from benefiting from these services.
Evidence presented at the seminar indicated that cash transfers and care approaches to social protection greatly benefit children and the most vulnerable communities is an investment that will in a long run pay for itself and have great returns on social and economic development of a country.
Failing to invest especially in early years, most of the participants felt is wasteful and costly in the long run. Protection against child poverty is the best evidence of the success or failure of government the anecdotal evidence suggests.
Namibia has a strong social assistance framework that include Old Age Pensions, Veteran’s Grants, Disability Grants, as well as five child-specific grants. The Harambee Prosperity Plan and the NDP5, address Poverty and Social protection as one of the pillars addressing the inequities in the country.
However, the challenge is to put in place a comprehensive social protection system that is inclusive of social assistance programmes, social insurance and social services (care and support interventions).
“The inter-ministerial Social Protection Core Team (SPCT) is a good practice,” said Dr Timo Voipio, Director for Strategies and partnerships of the EU Social Protection Systems Programme.
“However, for this to transcend to every level of the society and for sustainability, Namibian training institutes need to be engaged in developing social protection relevant training programmes for students and civil servants,” Voipio added.