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STEP Portugal Programme

Updated by Sven Nef on 10.06.2015

           STEP Portugal

Extending social protection in PALOP countries


Social security is a human right

To contribute to making this right a reality for millions of men and women who are denied it, in 2003 the ILO launched the Global Campaign on Social Security and Coverage for All. The challenge is considerable, as only 20% of the world’s population currently has access to adequate social protection and 50% are not covered by any protection. In the immense majority of sub-Saharan African countries, social security schemes only cover between 5 and 10% of the population.

A programme anchored in the field

A product of cooperation between the Portuguese Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity, the ILO and Portuguese-speaking African countries, the general mission of STEP Portugal is “to support the extension of social protection in the framework of promoting decent work.” The Programme is executed by the ILO Social Security Department and is financed by Portugal.

To fulfil its mission, STEP Portugal offers support to the Governments of Portuguese-speaking African countries (PALOP) to further their ambition of extending social protection and strengthening its effectiveness. The direct beneficiaries of the Programme are principally public institutions with responsibility for contributory and non-contributory social protection in these countries.

                      STEP Portugal intervenes in:


STEP Portugal participates in the International Social Protection Floor Initiative

Four areas of intervention

STEP Portugal’s intervention is structured around four main areas:

  • Providing technical assistance for the formulation of public social security policies, their implementation and the evaluation of their results.
  • Increasing the role of social protection in national development and poverty reduction strategies.
  • Contributing to improving the integration and coordination of actions in the field of social protection.
  • Reinforcing national competence and capacities, including through South-South cooperation.

Our operation

The Programme is composed of a decentralized team so that it is as close as possible to the needs of the countries. Its activities are determined jointly and periodically with national actors, which makes it possible to continually adapt its activities to the specific context and needs of each country. It makes available to its counterparts the expertise that only an international body can provide and help apply by sharing the experience acquired by other countries.

The activities of STEP Portugal at the country level form part of Decent Work Country Programmes and are carried out in association with the ILO Offices in Dakar, Lusaka and Yaoundé.


Sharing knowledge and know-how

STEP Portugal undertakes a series of activities intended to facilitate the access of Portuguese-speaking African countries to international experience relating to the extension of social protection. These activities, which supplement technical assistance, consist of training, the production of thematic studies and learning tools, study visits and the dissemination of reference documents. The Programme also supports the operation of an electronic platform: the Information Centre on Social Protection, CIPS.

Seminar on “Financial governance of social protection systems”, held in Maputo in 2010. Participating countries: Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. Partners: STEP Portugal, ITC Turin and ILO/QUATRAIN Africa.