Social Protection

Building social protection floors and comprehensive social security systems

Module II: Assessment and Recommendations

Objective of the module:

  • To learn to identify the current social protection situation and existing schemes in a country (description of schemes, legislation, coverage)
  • To compare the existing situation with the four SPF guarantees
  • To learn to analyse the effectiveness of existing schemes, and identify policy gaps and operational issues
  • To learn how to define recommendations
  • To complete the assessment matrix
  • To have an overview of the social security situation in other participating countries

Target groups:

  • Representatives of ministries and working teams involved in the planning, financing and management of social security systems in a country; Ministry of Labour, Social Security Institutions, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Planning, and other Ministries
  • Representatives of worker and employer associations as well as civil society organizations
  • Social protection experts from UN agencies and NGOs


Completion of Module I

Estimated duration of the module:

8 hours


Session 1: Building the assessment matrix

Session 2: World Café to identify policy gaps and implementation issues

Session 3: Case study and completing the assessment matrix

Session 4: Distribution of completed country matrices

Session 5: Who wants to be a ‘Protectionaire’?

Checklist of questions that are answered through the module:

  • How to make a complete inventory of existing social protection schemes in a country?
  • How to compare the existing situation with the SPF guarantees in order to close the gaps?
  • How to analyse coverage and adequacy of existing schemes?
  • How to identify policy and implementation gaps?
  • How to define recommendations?
  • How to fill the assessment matrix?

Training methods:

Presentations, question and answer session, group discussion, case study, role play, filling of matrices, quiz, knowledge fair

Material to be distributed to participants:

Factsheets on the assessment process, format of the inventory table for schemes, case studies, blank assessment matrices, country matrices

Physical media required:

Writing paper and pens, chart papers to record World Café reports, coloured pens, board to pin up World Café reports, white board, markers, laptops, LCD projector

Module II: Assessment and Recommendations

Session 1 (90 min):

The first session in Module II is organised as a presentation that explains in detail the process of building the assessment matrix. ABND is used to assess the social protection situation, identify areas for government intervention and estimate the cost of these interventions. Assessing the social protection situation in a country is done by developing an assessment matrix. The process of completing the matrix can broadly be divided into the following steps:

  1. Learning about the current situation in the country
  2. Comparison with SPF guarantees
  3. Identifying design gaps and operational issues
  4. Defining recommendations to close the gaps
  5. Agreeing on priority recommendations in discussion with all stakeholders

The first step of ABND is to learn about the current situation in the country by identifying schemes which have already been implemented. An inventory of existing schemes may be made in the attached format (Code: ASS_MOD2_TABL_003). The inventory table lists the names of the schemes, social security laws and regulations, responsible organisations, target groups, qualifications, benefits, coverage, government expenditure and so on. The methodology used for making the inventory may be through literature review of available resources and reports, legal review, conducting interviews with ministries, social security institutions and social partners.

The same format may be used to make an inventory of schemes which are planned but have not yet been implemented. It is also useful to learn about the government’s vision and its social security strategy.

The second step of ABND involves comparing the inventory of existing and planned schemes with the Social Protection Floor guarantees. This lets us know where intervention is required to close the gaps that will complete the Floor.

The third step is to analyse the effectiveness of existing schemes by identifying policy gaps and implementation issues. Identification of policy gaps may be done by studying the following areas:

  1. Legal framework
  • Conflict or overlap between laws or roles of institutions implementing social security policies
  • Fragmented schemes
  • Laws and decrees to support the schemes are not in place
  • Ad-hoc policies or absence of laws
  1. Coverage
  • Special groups, informal workers, dependants should enjoy access to schemes
  1. Insufficient protection
  • Level of benefits insufficient to guarantee income security, for example, non-indexation of pensions
  • Benefit package not adapted to existing needs such as transportation costs not covered, or changing needs such as long-term care
  1. Lack of responsiveness of benefit packages
  • No portability of benefits
  • No provisions in case of  unforeseen issues like recession, natural disasters
  1. Lack of clarity
  • Benefit package not clearly defined

Identification of implementation gaps may be done by studying the following areas:

  1. Lack of communication
  • Low awareness among beneficiaries, who may not have complete information about the schemes they are eligible for and the benefits available to them
  1. Inadequate resources or capacities to reach out to beneficiaries, especially in voluntary schemes
  1. Low enforcement
  • Non-registration or non-contribution by formal sector employers
  • Social evasion through outsourcing
  1. Supply side shortage
  • Unequal distribution of facilities especially in remote areas where it is often found that health care facilities provided to residents are not of good quality
  • Unequal distribution of skilled personnel by geography: professional doctors or civil servants may be reluctant to relocate to remote rural areas
  1. Fragmentation leading to inefficiencies and administrative burdens
  1. Ineffective monitoring and evaluation system which makes it difficult to track if the policy is being effectively implemented

Participants are encouraged to identify other areas where existing schemes may be deficient in completing the SPF and come up with policy and implementation gaps that they have faced in their respective countries.

Parameters such as membership of the scheme, proportion of beneficiaries availing facilities, coverage of special groups such as migrant workers and their families, fund allocation and expenditure in previous years can be analysed. The methodology followed for this step includes interviews with beneficiaries and administrators, analysis of data and figures for previous years, to the extent available.

The fourth step is to formulate recommendations that will close the gaps in existing schemes and complete the SPF. Persons conducting the assessment should study the benefits of each recommendation before completing the assessment matrix.

The fifth and final step is to decide on the recommendations or social protection provisions that are to be given priority for implementation. This is done in discussion with line ministries, local government representatives, worker and employer organisations, social partners and other stakeholders.

The presentation (Code: ASS_MOD2_PRES_001) is followed by a talk given by Dr. Thaworn on the experience of developing the assessment matrix for Thailand (Code: ASS_MOD2_PRES_002). The session has been filmed for future reference (Code: ASS_MOD2_VID_004). Participants are invited to clarify their doubts in a Question & Answer session. A factsheets on the ABND process in Asia and the Pacific region is provided to participants (Code: ASS_MOD1_DOC_031).

Session 2 (90 min):

The identification of various policy gaps and implementation issues is explained to participants through a practical session called World Café. In this session, four cafes are formed, each representing the following guarantees:

  1. Health and HIV
  2. Working age and maternity
  3. Children
  4. Elderly and disabled

Each café is headed by a café manager who stays in the café (participants may volunteer to become café managers, or the managers may be selected by the organisers). Participants are organised into four groups and each group spends 15 minutes at each café. At the cafes, the participants share their experiences and brainstorm to list down possible policy gaps and implementation issues for the guarantee represented at that café. For further details, please see the attached instruction sheet (Code: ASS_MOD2_CAFE_005).

Once the four groups have finished discussing at each café, the café managers make a consolidated list of the gaps and issues identified by each of the four groups. Each manager is given 3 minutes to summarise the issues brought out at their café. The World Café reports, i.e. the café managers’ lists (Code: ASS_MOD2_CAFE_007), is pinned up on a board so that participants may refer to it during their case study discussions. The session has been filmed are and is available for viewing online (Code: ASS_MOD2_VID_008).

For photographs of the session, please click here.

Session 3 (210 min):

This session is designed to give participants practical experience in the process of conducting ABND through the study of cases that simulate real-life experiences. The cases are based on a fictitious country that is in the process of developing its social security system and completing the Social Protection Floor. Each case deals with one of six guarantees in the country, namely healthcare, children, working age, old age, maternity and HIV, their current situation, challenges and way forward. The objective of the case study session is to have participants carry out the ABND process for each guarantee and complete the country’s SPF.

For writing the cases, the following SPF guarantees and recommendations have been used as a basis:

  1. Healthcare: Recommendations on the extension of coverage in Indonesia (Case study code: ASS_MOD2_CASE_009)
  2. Children: Recommendations on the introduction of a universal child allowance in Thailand and Conditional Cash Transfer in Cambodia (Case study code: ASS_MOD2_CASE_010)
  3. Working age: Recommendations on the development of a Skill Development policy in Thailand, and on the establishment of a Public Works Program in Viet Nam (Case study code: ASS_MOD2_CASE_011)
  4. Old age: Recommendation on the expansion of the pension system in Viet Nam and indexation of the pension scheme in Thailand (Case study code: ASS_MOD2_CASE_012)
  5. Maternity: Recommendation on the establishment of a maternity benefit in Thailand (Case study code: ASS_MOD2_CASE_013)
  6. HIV-AIDS: Recommendation on the introduction of antiretroviral treatment for HIV and intervention to reduce mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Indonesia (Case study code: ASS_MOD2_CASE_014)

The cases are attached at the end of this module. A sample solution to the cases is also attached at the end of the cases. This solution includes the assessment matrix, scenarios and cost of implementing the scenarios based on the RAP used in Module III. However, please note that this solution is not unique and it is possible to have many more solutions. While this solution may be used by organisers as a reference to understand the purpose of the case study round, it is encouraged that while conducting this session, participants are not led to this solution but the discussion is allowed to flow naturally. In this way, organisers will be able to have new perspectives and ideas on the situation described in the case. New ideas can also be an asset while assessing the social security situation in a real country.

Participants are divided into six groups, with each group representing one of the guarantees mentioned above. These are the same groups as in Jeopardy. Distribution of the participants into groups may be decided beforehand to ensure that each group has a fair mix of participants from different countries and backgrounds and people with experience in that guarantee field.

Group members are asked to perform different roles, e.g. people from line ministries and social security offices, social partners, civil society, UN agencies, workers, employers, and so on. Each person may be allotted a role based on the Introduction given by him in Session 3 of Module I. A participant contributes to the discussion of the case, from the point of view of the role he is enacting.

Participants are given 30 minutes to study the given case individually. After this, they are asked to discuss the case within the group. The discussion must follow the steps highlighted in Session 1 on the assessment process. Each group has a facilitator to ensure that the discussion does not move off track.

Once the group has finished discussing among themselves, they may start completing the blank assessment matrix (Code: ASS_MOD2_MTRX_015). The groups are given 2 hours for discussing the case, drafting recommendations and completing the assessment matrix.

The groups are asked to present the complete assessment matrices to the class. After completing the matrices, each group nominates one member to summarise their given case to the rest of the participants and explain the completed assessment matrix. Ten minutes are given to each group for this activity. The cases and completed assessment matrices (Code: ASS_MOD2_MTRX_016) are attached to the end of the module as resources.

For photographs of the session, please click here.

Session 4:

All participants are provided with blank assessment matrices along with the invitation to the training course. Participants are asked to fill these matrices according to their understanding of the social security systems in their respective countries and submit the completed matrices to the organisers before the start of the training course to give a chance to the organizers to check the information and complete the matrices if needed.

During this session, the country matrices (Code: ASS_MOD2_MTRX_018) are distributed among participants so that they may learn about the social security systems in another country. Participants are divided into the same 6 guarantee groups with each group being given 1-2 country matrices to read and prepare for a quiz on the next morning. The organisers must ensure that the groups are formed in such a way that no one receives the matrix of his own country. Each group is asked to study the country matrices distributed to them.

Session 5 (90 min):

Note: Ideally this session should be organized on the next day, to enable participants to study the country matrices carefully.

This session is designed to test the participants’ knowledge of the country assessment matrices. The quiz is organised as a game show called Who wants to be a ‘Protectionaire’? There are 6 groups, and each group is asked 4 questions. The group members discuss among themselves and give an answer within 45 seconds. In case a group requires help with a question, they can avail one of two lifelines: 50-50, ask the country. For further details, please see the attached instruction sheet (Code: ASS_MOD2_PROT_019). The quiz questions are attached to this module (Code: ASS_MOD2_PROT_020).

The points earned by the groups during the game are converted to money and added to the previous group budgets for implementing social protection provisions. The Budget table for this session (Code: ASS_MOD1_PROT_021) is attached.

For more information on how the sessions were conducted, please see the minutes of the workshop.

Challenges faced:

The social security schemes in a country are often started and run by different ministries, non-government organisations and other bodies. Implementation may be scattered and there may not exist a coordinated management information system (MIS) to monitor the schemes. Data may not be regularly compiled in a consistent and systematic manner and the available data may be limited and fragmented. As a result of this, gathering information and numbers about all the existing schemes could be a long and challenging task. This must be highlighted to participants.

Defining recommendations that will close the SPF gap and address the current policy gaps and implementation issues may be challenging. While drafting recommendations, a participant could suggest modifying an existing scheme and extending it to a new set of people, rather than recommending that a new scheme is designed. Coming to a consensus with the stakeholders on recommendations and prioritizing the most important ones may be a very long and challenging process.

For instance, common issues identified while conducting the ABND exercise in Viet Nam are listed below. Examples of design gaps (target group or key SPF guarantees not covered or insufficiently covered by existing policies, legislation and schemes) include:

  • Unemployment benefits are provided only to formal sector workers in enterprises of ten and more employees. This leaves out employees in organisations with less than ten employees.
  • Maternity benefits are limited to formal sector workers who have a contract of more than three months.
  • Pension scheme is not adapted to the needs of informal economy workers, resulting in very low coverage, for example
  • Only those above 80 years of age are eligible for old-age pension if they are not covered by the contributory pension scheme. The 60-79 age group is limited by many conditions.
  • Poor adequacy of benefits; the old-age universal pension benefit (for the 80+ age group) is VND 270,000 per month (US$ 13 or two-thirds of the nationally defined poverty line).

Examples of implementation gaps (dysfunctional implementation of existing policies and unmet entitlements for various reasons, such as unavailability or lack of access to services) include:

  • Unavailability of health services, as evident from the deficient infrastructure, lack of qualified staff or medicines
  • Lack of effective access to health care and other social services due to prohibitive transportation costs, under-the-table payments


Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5

Presentation on Myanmar's Social Security Law, 2012


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