Updated by Aidi Hu on 05.07.2013
Social protection is recognized as a constitutional right in the Maldives. However, a comprehensive social protection system has not yet been fully developed, although the last years have seen some promising progress, particularly the enactment of the Maldives Pension Act in 2009 and the formulation of a minimum social security package policy
During a social policy consultative workshop jointly organized by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and UNICEF Maldives in Male in March 2009, the participants - inspired by ILO's strategy for the extension of social security coverage - developed their own package in line with the national context, later adopted by the Government as part of its social policy. The package combines universal and targeted social security measures, and consists of a number of components:
- Health care for all and universal social health insurance (covering protection from abuse, violence and drug abuse);
- Access to water and sanitation
- Policies for food and nutrition security which might include cash transfers or food price subsidies to ensure reliable access and affordability;
- Skill development programmes with subsequent guaranteed employment, building on universal primary education.
- Affordable housing.
- An efficient and affordable transport system to ensure equitable access across the country.
- A universal social old age pension
- Income support for those in need of socio-economic security.
Currently, there are a number of operating social assistance programmes already in place:
- An absolute poverty scheme initiated in 2003 under which 500 rufiyaa (US$39) per month is given to individuals defined as highly vulnerable - who are not able to eat more than one meal a day, are not in possession of more than two sets of clothing, or are homeless.
- Assistance to obtain school materials for children of low-income families.
- Assistance to seek medical treatment from hospitals in Maldives and/or abroad.
- Assistance to obtain assistant devices for the disabled and drugs for the mentally ill.
- Institutional care for orphans and mentally disabled persons.
- Universal pension payable to all aged 65 and above.
These publicly-funded social assistance programmes are supplemented by non-governamental support including remittances from extended familiy members, wealthy individuals and Zakat, the Islamic charitable support.