Tag Archives: climate change

Finance ministers back social protection

In debates about the need for social protection in Africa, it is often hardest to convince those that hold the purse strings — Treasuries and Finance Ministries — that social protection is needed, and that it is affordable and sustainable.

So social protection advocates can perhaps take heart from the Ministerial Statement which emerged from a meeting of African finance ministers in Lilongwe, Malawi, at the end of March.

The ministerial statement came at the end of the 3rd Joint Annual Meetings of the AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and Economic Commission for Africa Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.  The theme of the conference was: Promoting high-level sustainable growth to reduce unemployment and poverty.

The conference affirmed the importance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and noted that strong policy measures are needed if Africa is to achieve most of the MDGs by 2015. The Ministerial Statement called for particular focus on economic growth that reduces unemployment, particularly, among young people. It called for several other measures, including the realization of a food-secure Africa within five years, acceleration of regional integration, and the integration of climate change into growth, employment and poverty eradication strategies.

Along with this, the ministers recognized “the importance of having in place counter-cyclical and social protection measures to address the impact of global crises, especially on vulnerable groups.” (Paragraph 4)

Paragraph 6 of the statement is particularly powerful:

“We note the disproportionately high-level of unemployment among the young, and the impact of external shocks on vulnerable groups – women, the youth, the elderly and the rural poor – as many of our countries lack effective social safety nets and mechanisms to protect these groups. We stress, therefore, the need for special employment and protection measures for vulnerable groups. In particular, we emphasize the need to promote youth employment and gender equality in the labour market as a means to enhance long-term growth and promote political stability.”

Finally, the ministers also pinpointed the need to implement existing policies and action plans already agreed upon: “we recognize that the non-implementation of existing policies and commitments has constrained progress towards meaningful economic transformation, job creation and poverty eradication in many of our economies. Hence we commit to effectively implement agreed plans of action…” (paragraph 15)

The full statement can be downloaded here, and more information on the meeting is available here.

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Social protection crucial as children feel the heat

In a new report on the impact of climate change on children, Save the Children has identified social protection in the form of cash grants to poor and vulnerable people as a key way to help communities cope and adapt.

The report, called Feeling the Heat, was released on Thursday Nov 5 at the Barcelona Climate Change talks.

Feeling the heat

According to the report, up to 175 million children a year will be hit by natural disasters linked to climate change. The researchers warn that climate change will “exacerbate the leading causes of death of children, including diarrhea, maluntrition and malaria.”

Feeling the Heat argues that plans to adapt to climate change must take into account the specific needs of children. This includes the need to boost health, water and sanitation systems in the poorest countries. Early warning systems for disasters are also crucial, the report says.

Emergency safety needs and long-term social protection in the form of cash transfers, are named as critical measures to help people cope with shocks and to reduce child mortality. Such measures should be specifically aimed at assisting children under five and pregnant and lactating mothers, the report says, as these “have the potential to tackle malnutrition brought about by climate change.”

You can download the full report here.

Focus on women to fight hunger

In an article on NGO Pulse, Charlotte Sutherland argues that efforts to fight hunger should focus on women – and that we need to move away from food aid, to enabling poor and vulnerable people to produce more of their own food.

Sutherland, a research manager at Consultancy Africa Intelligence, argues that women are a good starting point for food production initiatives because they tend to put their families ahead of themselves.

Focusing on the role of women, Sutherland argues that communities need help with a range of measures to give communities the tools to “tackle disasters before they strike.” this includes building of wells, irrigation programmes, and stockpiles of food and medicine. Just as crucial, is ensuring that women have secure land and property rights. This in turn would help women to access credit, technical input, training and education.

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