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Social policy and children in West and Central Africa Anthony Hodges, Regional Chief, Economic and Social Policy, WCARO.

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Presentation on theme: "Social policy and children in West and Central Africa Anthony Hodges, Regional Chief, Economic and Social Policy, WCARO."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social policy and children in West and Central Africa Anthony Hodges, Regional Chief, Economic and Social Policy, WCARO

2 2 Overview The political context Economic trends Social and demographic trends The development policy framework UNICEF engagement in PRSPs and budgets Poverty reduction and children Social protection and children UNICEF experience and capacity for social policy programming

3 3 The political context A very mixed picture Multi-party politics, but quality of governance varies widely Successful elections in many countries (with transfer of power in Sierra Leone in 2007), but some elections denounced/boycotted (e.g. Senegal & Nigeria in 2007) Peace agreement in Cote d’Ivoire and political agreement in Togo in 2007, and post-conflict recovery continuing in Congo, DRC and Liberia But continued conflict in eastern DRC, northern CAR, Chad, northern Niger, with huge population displacements, human rights violations, disruption of economy and social services

4 4 Economic trends Positive real per capita growth in 21 of 24 countries in 2007: over 4% in 5 countries. Driven by partial recovery of post-conflict countries, minerals/oil Macroeconomic stability & lower inflation, despite rising oil and food import prices, partly due to CFA franc appreciation against $ Increases in government revenue, and large fiscal surpluses in oil producers, but concerns about long- term sustainability And low income countries still have large deficits Benefits from debt relief tailing off and aid is growing only marginally despite G-8 pledges

5 5 Social and demographic trends Mixed picture on poverty reduction (MDG1) –Reduction in poverty in a few countries (almost halved in Ghana since early 1990s) –Risen in conflict-affected countries –Rising inequality rather than poverty reduction in some oil producers Wide geographical disparities: urban/rural, regional Emergencies (floods, epidemics) Massive urbanization: over 40% of population in urban areas in 13 countries, over 50% in 7 countries Unemployment and underemployment Youth crisis: frustration and lack of prospects, feeds into conflict Crime, sexual violence, drugs, clandestine migration

6 6 Mixed progress in reducing income poverty (MDG1)

7 7 Education: Far behind all other regions in achieving universal primary education (MDG2)

8 8 Child survival: Highest U5MR of all regions, with very slow decline (MDG4)

9 9 Development policy framework 18 countries with full PRSPs, 2 with interim PRSPs Most focus on MDGs & child priorities under ‘pillars’ for social services, human capital, social protection… SWAPs in at least 10 countries (education, health and sometimes HIV/AIDS, WES) Reform of public administration, some decentralization, PFM reforms (MTEFs, etc) Increases in social sector expenditure in some countries due to improved public finances & PRSPs Aid alignment & harmonization, with major donors (WB, EU, AfDB, DFID, Netherlands) providing general and sector budget support in some countries

10 10 UNICEF engagement in PRSPs and budgets PRSPs have become the main framework for development planning in low income countries. Therefore crucial for UNICEF to be fully engaged with its partners in PRSP formulation/validation processes, which are generally open and consultative Also important for UNICEF to engage with governments on budget policy questions, to leverage resources for children Be mindful of all stages of the planning-budget cycle: PRSP formulation-MTEF-annual budget-execution- reporting/audit/evaluation

11 11 Poverty reduction and children We want to put children at the forefront of PRSPs and budget priorities for several reasons: Children constitute half of the population in WCA Children have special needs and are especially vulnerable as the terrible U5M rates in WCA testify Children brought up in poverty will have limited prospects to escape poverty in adulthood Investments in children (human capital development) are a way to break out of poverty traps and break the inter-generational transmission of poverty

12 12 Social protection and children Bottom line in WCA is adequate investment in the provision of essential services (health and education) But could be accompanied by social protection measures to reduce vulnerability, risk and extreme poverty among children (AU Livingstone Call for Action) Growing interest in social transfers (in particular cash transfers) as a means of reducing vulnerability and lifting children out of extreme poverty Cash transfers are also a means of overcoming demand-side barriers of access to social services (fees, transport, opportunity costs)

13 13 Social protection and children (2) But many complex issues need to be addressed: –The extent of poverty and the difficulties of targeting in WCA countries –The institutional weaknesses for administering complex social protection programmes –Trade-offs with supply side investments in service provision (opportunity costs and affordability) –Strategies need to be country-specific Also important not to forget the importance of social welfare services: –Cash can’t solve everything –Need for special programmes to protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse (preventive and recovery)

14 14 UNICEF experience & capacity Nearly all Country Offices are engaged in upstream policy work (FA5 of MTSP ) –Direct service delivery by UNICEF makes little sense except in failed states and emergencies –UNICEF is working for national scaled-up action to accelerate progress towards the MDGs and fulfill child rights –Our focus is therefore on policy advice (through evidence- based policy dialogue and advocacy) and building capacity to strengthen governments’ policies, programmes, laws, budgets and institutions, on behalf of children –Example: the ‘investment cases’ for MDGs 4 and 5 (UNICEF working with health ministries) and policy analysis/advocacy for the abolition of primary school fees

15 15 UNICEF experience & capacity (2) Challenges: –Need to go beyond sector policy work to macro-level (development planning, budgets, social protection) –Need to build macro-level policy work into design of Country Programmes –Need to build up staff capacity (posts, training) –Need to allocate CP resources –Need to exchange experience and deepen knowledge Contribution of the 3 major sets of studies Conference planned for September 2008


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