Announcement in Brief
|Type :||Short Term Course|
|Programme Area :||Social policy|
|Beginning of the course :||05 October 2020|
|Duration :||9 Weeks|
|Language :||Bilingual (English & French)|
|Location :||Web Based E-Learning|
|Fee :||Covered by the UNECA|
|Application Deadline :||18 September 2020|
|Specific target audience :||Technocrat in the fields of social Policy|
Over the last decade or so, the African social policy landscape has witnessed several significant new developments. At one level, in November 2008 and after several false starts, the first African Social Development Ministerial Conference, in Windhoek-Namibia, approved the African Union’s African Social Policy Framework (SPF). The SPF is a document that seeks to give an expansive understanding to the idea of ‘Social Policy’ and its multiple functions for meeting Africa’s inclusive development objectives.
At another level that is closely related to the SPF, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) has invested tremendous resources on a deepening of policy reflections on the place and roles of social policy in the development context with a view, inter alia, to bridging the gap between the literature and body of knowledge in mainstream Social Policy and Development Studies. UNRISD’s output has demonstrated the mutually embedded and virtuous connection between social policy and economic policy and argued the case for a “transformative social policy” agenda for the countries of Africa and the global South that are categorized as late developers.
Moreover, there are new developments in Social Policy globally such as the new AU Social Policy Framework in accordance with Agenda 2063, and the social dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Agenda 2030 (SG on “End Poverty in all its forms everywhere for all people” and SDG8 on “Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth, full and productive Employment and Decent work for all”.
On the domestic policy front, most African countries give special attention to social policy questions, and social protection as their National Development Plans are anchored in the achievements of UN SDG Agenda 2030 and AU Agenda 2063.
Furthermore, the course on Social Policy is taking part in a very particular context this year, the COVID-19 pandemic; a severe respiratory acute disease that originated from Wuhan, China and has since spread across all continents. The specificity of this pandemic is its mitigation measures (confinement, curfew, social distancing etc.) to limit the strain on health services cause major disruptions in countries’ and world Economy.
While the immediate health impact is still evolving, the indirect consequences beyond health already bring a heavy toll. These include food insecurity, lack of medical supplies, loss of income and livelihood,
difficulties in applying sanitary and physical distancing measures, a looming debt crisis, as well as related political and security risks .
Economists predict that recession and drop in GDP are inevitable because of the economic impacts (suspended flights, disruption of the supply chains; new low in decline of crude oil; businesses closing down) leading to Social impacts with unprecedented unemployment rate, loss of income; higher poverty rate with millions of people relying on food banks.
According to ECA, COVID-19 employment effects are likely to be severe in urban areas. With urban-based sectors of the economy (manufacturing and services) which currently account for 64% of GDP in Africa are expected to be hit hard by COVID-19 related effects, leading to substantial losses in productive jobs. In particular, the approximately 250 million Africans in informal urban employment (excluding North Africa) will be at risk. Firms and businesses in African cities are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 related effects, especially SMEs which account for 80% of employment in Africa. These risks are compounded by a likely hike in the cost of living is expected as shown for example by some initial reports of up to 100% increase in the price of some food items in some African cities.
The impact on African economies could be the slowing of growth to 1.8 per cent in the best case scenario or a contraction of 2.6 percent in the worst case. This has the potential to push 29 million people into extreme poverty .
Even if the spread of COVID-19 is suppressed in Africa, its economic damage will be unavoidable. The price of oil, which accounts for 40 per cent of Africa’s exports, has halved, and major African exports such as textiles and fresh-cut flowers have crashed. Tourism which accounts for up to 38 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of some African countries has effectively halted, as has the airline industry that supports it. Collapsed businesses may never recover. Without a rapid response, Governments risk losing control and facing unrest.
To protect and build towards our shared prosperity at least a $100 billion fiscal stimulus is needed to immediately address the urgent healthcare needs, provide safety net for the most vulnerable, protect jobs and support economic activity where possible.
The above-mentioned issues highlight the importance of social protection mechanisms such as unemployment benefits, but also investment in health care and digital education as millions of children in Africa are out of school, especially in Africa.
Several initiatives are currently being pursued across the continent around social insurance schemes, contributory pension schemes, and non-contributory social transfer schemes. A majority of the social protection initiatives are driven by international actors (bilateral and multilateral) keen to invest in the fight against prolonged poverty and exclusion or simply contribute to efforts at supporting some of the more poorly-endowed African states to achieve the SDGs and Agenda 2063. However, strong domestic political and policy constituencies have also emerged within African countries themselves to build a strong stake in social policy and social protection. The context of electoral politics has provided a boost to this growing domestic interest.
Clearly, social policy, and social protection as an integral part of it, has become a central concern in the policy community, making it imperative to invest in the enhancement of the capacity of African policy officials to grasp, respond to and apply them effectively. In the face of the menu of initiatives which are being promoted across Africa involving admixture of actors each with its own specific points of entry and pre-occupation, it is even more urgent to equip African policy officials with a robust capacity not only to engage but also develop instruments that suit their national contexts whilst delivering on Africa’s agenda of inclusive development.
The overarching objective of the course is to contribute to the development of a critical mass of highly skilled middle and senior development officials and decision makers who have a strong social policy consciousness and orientation, and who will be suitably or better equipped to design and manage development plans in which social and economic policies and strategies are fully interfaced to deliver the kinds of transformative outcomes desired. By the end of the capacity-enhancement training programme, the participants are expected to have acquired: