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Social Protection

Building social protection floors and comprehensive social security systems


Social Protection Floor

About 80 per cent of the world’s population lacks access to social guarantees to deal with everyday risks. While the Asia-Pacific region has made significant economic progress which has lifted many people out of poverty in the last two decades, not all have benefited from these gains. Millions of people are still poor, deprived of basic human rights and susceptible to financial risks and climate change. This is a major hurdle to achieving sustainable economic growth and one that threatens to reverse the hard-won progress in human development of the past decade. The provision of income security and basic social services to all people is thus a priority of many national governments.

A social protection floor (SPF) is a nationally defined set of basic social security guarantees to prevent or alleviate poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion. Such guarantees can be achieved through contributory or non-contributory schemes, either means-tested or universal. Several Asian countries including Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam have taken measures to ensure access to basic health care, income security, free education and food security for all those not yet covered by statutory social security schemes. These measures form part of the national SPFs. Contributory social insurance schemes also play an important role in achieving the SPF, since their members are already covered and do not require public resources to be assigned to non-contributory schemes for them.

The SPF framework can be used to describe existing social security, social protection and poverty alleviation programmes, identify policy gaps and implementation issues and draw recommendations for the further design and implementation of social protection provisions in order to guarantee at least the floor to the whole population. The cost of the proposed social protection provisions is estimated and projected over a 10 year period using the Rapid Assessment Protocol (RAP), a costing tool developed by the ILO. This costing exercise can serve as a basis for discussions on the fiscal space and government’s budget reallocations and help prioritize between possible social protection policy options. This process is known as Assessment Based National Dialogue (ABND).

Assessment Based National Dialogue

ABND comprises three steps:

Step 1: Development of the assessment matrix which contains for each of the four guarantees of the SPF an inventory of existing social security, social protection and poverty alleviation programmes, identifies policy gaps and implementation issues, and a number of recommendations for the design and implementation of further social protection provisions with the aim of guaranteeing at a minimum the SPF to all the population.

Step 2: The cost of the proposed social protection provisions is then estimated and projected over a 10 year period using the ILO Rapid Assessment Protocol (RAP). This costing exercise can serve as a basis for discussions on available fiscal space, government budget reallocations, and the prioritization of different social protection policy options.

Step 3: The assessment report is shared with government representatives, workers and employers as well as civil society organizations with a view to validate the recommendations and assumptions and prepare for the next steps (feasibility studies for the design of the new schemes or expansion of existing schemes, or establishment of coordination mechanisms).

Stakeholders involved in the ABND exercise include line ministries, social partners, civil society, worker and employer representatives, academia, UN agencies, and others. It may be essential that at every stage the assessment doer finds it necessary, the doer conducts a discussion with all stakeholders (line ministries, social partners, SPF working groups, civil society, academia, and so on) on the changes required and the way ahead.

Objective of the SPF Good Practices Guide

The Guide provides a set of guidelines and tools to conduct workshops and training sessions on the Assessment Based National Dialogue (ABND) exercise to assess the social protection system in a country. It can also be used as a reference manual to conduct such assessments. The Guide does not prescribe a standard system or method; it provides an approach and pointers that need to be tailored to the participant’s environment. It follows the main steps of the ABND exercise.

Structure of the training

The training workshop has been organised in five modules which follow the steps of ABND. The modules are:

Module I: Introduction

Module II: Assessment and recommendations

Module III: Scenarios and costing

Module IV: Building national consensus

Module V: Conclusion

Adopting the SPF Good Practices Guide

The Guide may be used to conduct a training session. The precise content of the session should be based on the following parameters:

  • Objective of the training session
  • Prior knowledge and skills requirements of participants
  • Context and social security situation in the country, whether it is in initial or advanced stages
  • Resources available to the organisers of the training session and participants
  • Capacity and prior experience of trainers
  • Any training previously given on the topic

Methods used in the training

The Guide prescribes a combination of several methods to facilitate learning and participation. The organisers may use other methods as they see convenient. Various active methods that help in easy understanding and knowledge sharing are listed below:

  • Presentations provided by resource persons
  • Brainstorming sessions involving participants will generate different ideas, while active discussions at the end will help to gauge what participants have gained from the training
  • Group discussions will enable to draw from one another’s experiences and ideas, to check feasibility of one’s ideas from another person and get a second opinion
  • Individual work, such as working on RAP worksheets
  • Quizzes and tests will be organized to check participants’ knowledge on a specific thematic area or other countries’ experiences
  • Matrices, filled by participants individually or in groups
  • Case studies give ground knowledge to participants on successful practices and failures and help in better understanding
  • Filling of checklists
  • Group activities, such as games and simulations for designing schemes
  • Role plays, could be used for training on lobbying and presenting to ministries
  • Review and feedback

The Guide is in the format of an electronic portfolio, enabling future trainers to share additional training material, exercises, resources, and so on.

Carrying out ABND in a country

The Guide may also be used to conduct a full-fledged ABND exercise in the respective countries. Participants may follow the structure of the ABND exercise proposed in this Guide. The sessions may be tailored to the environment in the country. Participants may conduct literature review of available reports, laws and regulations, statistical data and also have technical consultations (in person and through workshops) on existing schemes and their status. National dialogue on policy developments and priority measures may help to take the process ahead. Countries may also explore the establishment of a technical working group within the UN country teams or UN agencies with key people from ministries, the statistical office and social security institutions.


Home | Guide: Introduction | Module I | Module II | Module III | Module IV | Module V