The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed devastating gaps in social protection around the globe. In Somaliland, where schemes are still being developed, significant steps must be taken to build effective and inclusive social protection schemes that guarantee the survival of the most vulnerable populations, particularly children, according to a new report released today.
The report, jointly produced by Save the Children and Development Pathways under the leadership of the Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs and Family (MESAF) of Somaliland, recommends incremental investment in social protection schemes prioritizing universal child benefits that focus on the first 1,000 days of life.
Chad Anderson, Save the Children’s Head of Child Poverty Reduction says:
“The COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call for all of us. It is clear now more than ever that gaps in social protection coverage are leaving countless families behind and pushing them deeper into poverty, compromising their chances of survival during this pandemic and greatly reducing their ability to build back their lives.”
The report—scoping and sector review of social protection in Somaliland – supported by Finland’s Development Cooperation, identifies universal schemes as the most effective approach to address today’s high poverty rates in Somaliland. According to data in the report, the vast majority of people in Somaliland are living on very low and insecure incomes. At least 78 per cent of the population is regarded to live in extreme poverty based on the international threshold of PPP US$1.90 per person per day for 2017. Simulations in the report clearly highlight how a universal child benefit targeting all children in Somaliland aged 0-4 years would reach 66% of the poorest 10% of households, and could be easily scaled up during shocks like COVID-19.
Furthermore, the analysis in the report estimates that the universal scheme would cost just over US$ 40 million to implement. This analysis builds on Somaliland’s pilot Child-Sensitive Social Protection Programme (CSSP) implemented by the Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs and Family, and Save the Children, and highlights opportunities to invest in universal child benefits and other inclusive social protection schemes.
Abdirashid Ibrahim Sh. Abdirahman, Director General of the Ministry of Employment Social Affairs and Family says:
“Investing in children through social protection instruments such as universal child benefits can help create resilient communities, break the inter-generational poverty cycle in Somaliland, and strengthen trust between us as a government and the people of Somaliland.”
The report also calls on policymakers to develop a social protection policy, to lay the foundation for incremental investment in inclusive schemes across the lifecycle, including also disability benefits and an old age pension. As Somaliland continues to invest in social protection, a lifecycle approach will be essential to close gaps in coverage, protecting all women, men, girls and boys when they need it. The report also highlights the important role these universal schemes play strengthening the relationship and trust between government and the people of Somaliland, contributing not only to poverty reduction, but also stability.
Examples from around the world clearly demonstrate that countries with robust and comprehensive social protection systems are in a much stronger position to respond to, and recover from crisis. Policymakers need to build on the momentum generated by growing public awareness of the importance of social protection and the urgency of investing in it as a society, to ensure preparedness for future crises.
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