Building Iraq’s Social Protection Floor: Joint UN paper proposes recommendations to strengthen the adequacy, coverage and equity of the social protection system in Iraq
17 August 2022
Baghdad, Iraq – August 17, 2022 - A new working paper has been developed by the United Nations in Iraq, which proposes a set of key recommendations that would contribute to strengthening the adequacy, coverage and equity of the social protection system and enhancing its effectiveness in reaching the most vulnerable groups of society – including children, youth, women, elderly, informal workers, persons with disabilities and Internally Displaced Persons.
The paper, “Building Iraq’s Social Protection Floor – Framework and recommendations,” looks at some of the gaps and challenges in Iraq’s social protection system and identifies operational, country specific, costed interventions that “should be considered to achieve an inclusive social assistance system in Iraq that ultimately leaves no one behind.”
Developed by the ILO, in partnership with UNICEF, WFP, IOM and UNHCR and the European Union, in close coordination with the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, the paper is part of efforts to facilitate the transition and reform of the social protection system in the country.
The paper highlights Iraq’s commitment to social protection, as “demonstrated clearly in the 2018-2022 Poverty Reduction Strategy, in which the establishment of an effective social protection system was recognized as a strategic priority.” Yet, implementation is undermined by high fragmentation in the current system and complexity and ineffectiveness of current targeting approaches, among other challenges.
The paper focuses on non-contributory social assistance, which according to the ILO, includes “schemes that normally require no direct contribution from beneficiaries or their employers as a condition of entitlement to receive relevant benefits.”
The recommendations include shifting from charity-based social assistance to a rights-based, developmental approach; consolidating all fragmented social assistance programmes into a life-cycle social protection floor (SPF); and using the SPF as the basis for a shock-responsive cash transfer programme. Recommendations also focus on equipping the working-age population with modern economy skills-sets and integrating them in the contributory social insurance; establishing a shared service centre (SSC) for unified service delivery (one-stop shop) for all social protection benefits; and strengthening nutrition, health and education by providing healthy school meals.
Social Protection programmes are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically, the elimination of extreme poverty in the world; full and productive employment and decent work for all; and the reduction of inequalities.