Deepen the implementation of social protection
In order to ensure that all citizens have information on social protection, including responses to emergencies, the Kingdom has set up an alert dissemination system. Khmer Times’ Yin Soeum interviewed Oxfam’s country director Lim Solin and Chan NarithSecretary General of the National Social Protection Board for their commitment to the National Social Protection Broadcasting Mechanism (NSPBM).
KT: What is the National Social Protection Dissemination Mechanism?
Lim Solin: The need for a mechanism capable of effectively disseminating information is reinforced by the situation created by the pandemic.
The NSPBM can also be used as a shock-responsive emergency broadcast system that can instantly target and/or deliver life-saving and consistent emergency messages to an entire sample of Cambodia’s population, both urban citizens and rural people from all socio-economic backgrounds. and lifestyles.
This is exactly the intention and thinking behind this united NSPBM broadcast architecture.
KT: Why is there a different need for broadcasting than today’s media such as television, radio and print media?
Chan Narith: So far, communication has been used to inform the public about the various social protection programs and schemes. However, two aspects still need to be strengthened.
The first is to have a coordinated mechanism. The second is to supplement the efforts already made by the various sectors, including all the media you mentioned.
KT: How do you see this council working with ministries and civil society organizations during the pandemic?
Lim Solin: The NSPBM is a collaborative leadership between all important stakeholders, including the 11 line ministries involved in the day-to-day delivery of social protection services.
The NSPBM should be managed by an advisory board that involves all key leaders among the 11 line ministries, as well as those from civil society organizations.
The idea is that the NSPBM architecture will bring together thinkers and doers who have experience in responding to the Covid -19 crisis to come together and think about how we might gain efficiency in our emergency communication to all citizens.
KT: For the collaboration, how are the ministries involved?
Chan Narith: Efforts related to communication through radio broadcasting and targeted dissemination are further strengthened to bring outreach activities to beneficiaries.
Although we are 11 ministries to have representatives on the advisory committee, this does not mean that the population must contact these ministries when it comes to different social protection schemes and programs. A ministry would be the lead implementing agency for a specific scheme or program.
KT: Oxfam has been a long-standing partner with Cambodia since 1979. Why is national social protection just getting started now? Do you see a difference in needs compared to 40 years ago?
Lim Solin: Cambodia has come a long way since then and Cambodia has done very well in eradicating poverty. Oxfam’s global report cited Cambodia as one of the most successful examples of poverty reduction under the leadership of the royal government.
Today, Cambodia is a lower-middle-income country. Oxfam too, we have transformed our support in Cambodia to respond to this phase of Cambodia’s development as well as the growing capacities of various actors, primarily the government, local civil society groups and the private sector.
When these three important players in Cambodia became very strong and were able to provide services in all sectors, Oxfam made the decision to withdraw all of its service delivery programs and close all of its provincial offices. Since 2016, we no longer need to be in this space.
We have doubled our investments in policy initiatives that could help unlock Cambodia’s potential and achieve its next ambition to become an upper-middle-income country.
This pandemic has highlighted Cambodia’s urgent need to properly invest and work to advance universal healthcare, universal education and a universal social protection system.
KT: Can the government take ownership of an initiative such as NSPBM?
Chan Narith: When we talk about this post-conflict period, initially we were talking about reconstruction and now Cambodia has taken another step after reconstruction to the stage of development. We even talked about the vision to move Cambodia forward with a milestone of 2030 and 2050.
As this development continues to the stage we are at now, ownership has been taken step by step by the country and currently more and more initiatives are being supported internally.
Nevertheless, we still need technical assistance and expertise on the various implementation processes. So far, the initiatives implemented under the national social protection policies adopted in 2017 belong to the Royal Government of Cambodia.
KT: We cannot predict pandemics like Covid-19 and certain natural disasters like floods and droughts. With this factor, do you see any challenges to Oxfam’s work in the area of cooperation with the government?
Lim Solin: I think you are right to say that it was very difficult to anticipate and be fully prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. For the slow onset and seasonal natural disasters in Cambodia such as floods and droughts which are intensified by the effects of global warming, I believe these are disasters that we can anticipate and can be dealt with with various forms of disaster risk reduction awareness and emergency response preparedness.
Being prepared would allow us to think critically about the types of strengths and weaknesses of each actor and how to maximize collective strengths, especially from the perspective of the NSPBM.
Lives are in danger if we don’t plan well. If we don’t plan when the skies are blue, we clearly plan to fail when the storms hit.
KT: Can the general public have access to this broadcast if they need it or if they have problems to be broadcast, can they do it for free because of social problems?
Chan Narith: This mechanism consists of disseminating social protection benefits to the intended beneficiaries, but it could also serve as a mechanism to collect or receive public feedback when needed.
As part of the initiative, implementing partners who work directly in communities and with hard-to-reach populations could also serve as a voice not only for the implementing program, but also for the population towards up so we can fix the issues.
It could serve for two-way communication, which is an extra effort that has already been made.