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The National draft policy framework for social protection in Sierra Leone and its importance

The National draft policy framework for social protection in Sierra Leone and its importance

A series of studies and consultations undertaken for and by the Steering Committee on Social Protection (SCSP) convened from government, private sectors, and civil society to develop a national social protection policy and to advise the government on its adoption and implementation, is aimed to find durable solutions for the poorest and most vulnerable across Sierra Leone developed through literature study, field work and discussion involving key stakeholders.

The framework for Sierra Leone was developed in the light of the Africa social protection developed over the past years and agreed in October 2008 by a representative of ministers responsible for social welfare from 36 countries in Africa at Windhoek, Namibia. Even though not the most important reason for developing and implementing social protection in Sierra Leone, the framework and mandate of the African Union and its instrument  on human rights and protection to which the Government of Sierra Leone signed can only start to be  through National Social Protection Policy and Associated  Legislation action plans.

Issues and options for a national policy are presented, based on international standards and practice and the reality of Sierra Leone, a country where it is estimated 50 to 70 percent of its population live below a dollar a day hence realizing that only the most vulnerable can be supported through a social protection measure. The chronically poor, the economically risky and the socially vulnerable are found to be women, men and children of different ages with different physical mental conditions, experiences, and situations that made them poor and vulnerable. These are the ones that will be catered for in the national social protection policy.

Sierra Leone is a country limited in resources, the cost of social protection seems affordable with some initial international support back up with national and local budgets that will kick start the project. In line with the Africa Union and within the guidelines and principles of international framework, the initial stages of social protection introduction will be prioritized by adopting a minimum package of social protection for the most venerable and destitute.

From an objective point of view, Sierra Leone a donor driven economy, cannot finance the  national social protection policy due to the issues and options outlined in the policy which are  human capital development, risk management, empowerment and livelihoods, social cohesions and nation building and poor macro economic strategy.

The Act captures the importance of human capital development recognizing it as one of the key areas for investment in the nation’s poverty reduction strategies plan but no responsibilities and duties of the state and other stakeholders as to how to alleviate the problem of human capital development.

Risk management identifies the poorest and most vulnerable that are at constant risk of disease, starvation and death. The only way the policy stipulated the mitigation of risk management is for the policy to acknowledge the responsibilities of the state to meet minimum standard of protection and care for its most deprived citizen, thus establishing the will of the state to meet the social, political and moral obligations including those enshrined in the national  and international instrument on the right of human beings to which the state has committed itself . One may be tempted to asked how many international instruments has Sierra Leone committed itself to and how many have been domesticated?

How serious as a country do we treat the human rights laws?

Empowerment and livelihoods identify the social protection measures provided through a policy that will aim to lift out of poverty or at least reduce their vulnerability. The policy makers consider it as the most successful to be achieved when protection improves the livelihood and prospect and opportunities. Hence it was agreed in the policy that in order to stimulate empowerment and livelihood to develop income earning activities land seeds and tools for those able to farm will be offered to the four categories of vulnerable groups along side the provision of food and cash transfer.

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