$1 million investment to strengthen social protection system – Jamaica Observer
Minister of Labor and Social Security, Karl Samuda
Three United Nations (UN) agencies and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) have launched a new effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable and improve Jamaica’s social protection system to better respond to future shocks.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the
The World Food Program (WFP) will implement the US$1.1 million joint program “Modernizing Social Protection Systems in Jamaica: Towards an Adaptive, Shock-Responsive and Inclusive System”.
The joint program will introduce tools to better identify people facing acute socio-economic challenges due to major shocks, such as pandemics and disasters, and strengthen the mechanisms and systems used by the government to provide support to beneficiaries. A key innovation will be the piloting of electronic payments to enable more efficient and faster payments, with a focus on payments for people with disabilities.
One of the key benefits of the program is that it will provide the most vulnerable groups, including children from poor households and people with disabilities, with increased access to shock-responsive social protection programs. In doing so, the program will better respond to the needs of men and women, thus reducing inequalities between them.
“We are confident that this joint program will help improve Jamaica’s protection against ‘rainy days’, especially for female-headed households and women working in the informal sector, as well as families with children and people with disabilities,” said United Nations resident Dr. Garry Conille. Coordinator,
speaking at the launch event.
“We are proud to launch a program that will see Jamaica develop more robust and shock-responsive social protection and increase its ability to activate rapid responses targeting the most vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19 and other shocks,” he continued.
In 2021, UNICEF supported the provision of cash transfers to approximately 3,000 households comprising children with disabilities, as well as pregnant and lactating women, as part of the COVID 19 emergency response. Similarly, between December 2021 and March 2022, MLSS and WFP provided cash transfers to households affected by COVID-19.
This program piloted the use of digital solutions for beneficiaries to receive their cash assistance and supported increased accountability. Lessons learned from this program are already being used to scale up a government program through the same e-delivery mechanism
and inform joint program activities.
“Undoubtedly, this joint program will deliver no less positive results for Jamaica, especially at this time as the country rebounds and recovers stronger from the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Karl Samuda, Minister of Labor and Social Security. . “Today’s launch marks another important step in accelerating our efforts to become a more inclusive and socially adaptable society.”
The joint program is funded by the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) grant funding initiative. It is part of a wide range of interventions under the United Nations Joint Fund for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are designed to support Jamaica’s achievement of the goals of the VISION 2030 national development plan and several SDGs.
Globally, evidence shows that vulnerable groups disproportionately bear the burden of the health and socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly women and people living in poverty. A recent survey by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) and UNICEF revealed the difficult realities Jamaican families face in dealing with the impact of COVID-19.
The results showed that 80% of households reported a reduction in their income during the pandemic, with a significantly greater loss for families in lower socioeconomic brackets. The survey also revealed that only 50% of families had enough to meet basic household needs for up to two weeks. A February 2022 survey by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and WFP found that 57% of respondents had faced job loss or reduced income due to the pandemic.