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On 16 September, the Social Protection Team at the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa held a webinar as part of ongoing efforts to support the social protection components of Rapid Financing Facility (RFF) proposals.

The webinar (view recording) followed the release of a Guidance Note on how to draft an RFF on social protection (available in English/French). The notes aim to be a practical resource for Country Offices (COs) that wish to develop a stand-alone RFF proposal or incorporate social protection across other key areas.

The webinar presented a framework of integrated social protection approaches that can directly contribute to poverty reduction, vulnerability to risks, inequality, and also increase human capital and inclusive growth. A proposal focused on social protection also helps to achieve other objectives such as gender equality, green economy, governance and social inclusion.

The following taxonomy of different social protection instruments was presented in order to define what social protection programming is and what is not. Cash transfers, public works programmes, social care and labour market policies and interventions such as skills building, training, access to finance and financial inclusion are relevant instruments for mitigating the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 and can also be used for targeting informal economy workers. Contributory social insurance is not very relevant here as African economies are highly informal.

One of the key elements when designing an RFF on social protection is situational analysis supported by data. These would be ideally be based on socioeconomic impact assessments (SEIA) that discuss what vulnerable groups have been hit by the pandemic the most, in what sectors and the overall situation and impact of the pandemic on the economy. Data on political economy, power structures, governmental and societal buy-ins into social protection are also very relevant.

The second important element is what the social protection is for: what kind of primary and secondary objective it tends to contribute to, for example a green economy in Eswatini or the development of enterprises and policy support in Eritrea.

Another key question is for whom the social protection is. With a time constraint of 18 months, the RFFs need to be strategic with whom the intervention will be directed at. The key elements “what” and “for whom” will determine the type of instrument to be selected.

Finally, depending on the country context, policy elements are encouraged to support systemic change and systems approach. Sequencing is also an important aspect to a longer term and more sustainable social protection system.

The webinar featured valuable experience sharing from different UNDP Country Offices on drafting the RFFs or other social protection interventions. UNDP Eswatini shared their mapping and assessment of the informal economy sector while also looking at livelihoods, vulnerability and the green economy, and how a joint project with WFP advancing cash grants via digital platforms could be scaled up when moving forward.

UNDP Eritrea has been working on reducing economic and social vulnerability and promoting social justice and equality through social assistance within the country context. The focus of RFF has been on safety nets for informal workers and those left behind by the impact of COVID-19.

UNDP Comoros has been supporting greener and more inclusive recovery, fostering engagement at all levels by integrating three pillars into the RFF – social protection, green economy and governance – to increase resilience.

UNDP Namibia shared its experience with developing a Basic Income Grant to reduce poverty levels and how data and registries played a crucial role in analyses of income assessments and feasibility studies comparing universal and conditional grants.

UNDP Botswana has been supporting the government with assessing social protection systems in the country and shared a common UN approach that was developed to assess which UN agency would most likely provide support and where specifically, with UNDP helping horizontally with systemic support.

Following the success of the webinar and increased demand for support with the RFF proposals, RSCA has begun organizing a bi-weekly clinic where all country offices are welcome to participate and pose questions on specific areas of support on the social protection component of the RFF.

For more information on the RFF guidance on social protection, please contact Renata Nowak-Garmer at renata.nowak-garmer@undp.org.

For more information on the webinar and bi-weekly clinics, please contact Petra Bezdekova at petra.bezdekova@undp.org.  

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