12 February 2018

Ethiopia: Public Ownership Key to Sustainable Social Protection System

Although, Ethiopia has an array of formal and informal support mechanisms, programs, action plans and interventions that aims at serving a variety of social protection purposes, the most direct - the National Social Policy - is designed as part and parcel of an integrated approach to the progressive realization of social and economic rights noted in article 41 of the constitution, which state, "The State shall, within available means, allocate resources to provide rehabilitation and assistance to the physically and mentally disabled, the aged, and to children who are left without parents or guardian." Yet,the country doesn't, have a comprehensive and integrated social protection system as well as a strong social welfare system and structure.

The Social Welfare programme is getting a growing attention due to the fact that it is central in addressing poverty, vulnerability and inequality,while it improves the effectiveness and efficiency of investments in agriculture, hygiene and health, education, and the like thus accelerating the attainment of the development goals of the country.

There are also a wide range of important informal social support mechanisms that form the bedrock of social protection in the country. Extended family care, it is customary either to transfer resources -usually grains- to people who are not managing to cope or to take‐up temporary lodging with better‐off family members or relatives during the lean season, labour pooling to ensure households against labour deficits such as in harvest times and house construction and remittances from relatives living abroad. Significant are age-old traditions still widely favored and practiced by the population such as Idirs that provide different types of resources when problems occur amongst members and the primarily financial institutions,- iqubs- pooled revolving funds often invested in building assets.

The insecurity of the well being of citizens or of a specific disadvantaged group within a community or its vulnerability because of gender, age, health status, disabilities and other differences will require appropriate and timely response guided by an effective strategy. Though the issue is well recognized in Ethiopia and a wide range of social protection actions are being implemented across the country, the social situation has been worsening mainly due to lack of the knowledge as to how to bring meaningful and sustainable improvement and inadequate allocation of public resources to be used for social development efforts.

The country's ability to absorb and protect vulnerable groups of people is overwhelmed by a variety of reasons.. Government structures established to oversee and serve the claims of persons with disabilities, the elderly, women, children and other vulnerable groups are weak,while, capacity effectively to design, implement and coordinate social protection interventions is constrained. Social Protection information

systems are weak and fragmented; coordination and exchange of information among concerned stakeholders are limited. The same is true with few social workers specialized in social policy development, programming, monitoring and evaluation and delivering the required services.

Communities have a variety of ways, time-tested experiences and methods of supporting the poor and vulnerable members. The Programme gains a lot if it ensures that society at different levels are taking appropriate responsibility for the implementation of social protection policy. It as well gains a lot if it ensures public and stakeholders active participation and ownership through the traditional coping mechanisms in place.

Civil society and interest groups in general, and beneficiaries in particular, shall be consulted and involved in the design, planning and implementing of the Programme at local level including harmonization of efforts and alignment of activities to avoid repetition. Private businesses can also play a role in contributions from profits in the form of provisions, for corporate Social Responsibility can be one source of finance.

Since the state's capacity has grown as a result of the successes of recent development plans over the last decade there is also a need to enhance the social protection policy framework in a way that creates a legal, institutional and fiscal frame delivering more effective, efficient and sustained social protection outcomes as well as a strong monitoring and evaluation based on current capacities.

Ethiopia

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