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ECOWAS Holds Regional Consultative Meeting On Draft Social Protection Framework
l-r Dr. Sintiki Ugbe, ECOWAS Commission’s Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Mrs. Adebisi Arije, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, William Alo

Abuja, 20th November 2019. The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and technical experts from Ministries in charge of social protection from ECOWAS Member States commenced a regional consultation meeting on the draft social protection framework for ECOWAS in order to achieve a consensus on its content and scope.

The two-day meeting which started on 20th November 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria, will have participants assess the level of social protection in the ECOWAS region, identify gaps and provide data on the status of social protection their respective countries.

The Commissioner of Social Affairs and Gender of the ECOWAS Commission, Siga Fatima Jagne while delivering her opening remarks at the meeting stated the ECOWAS Commission with the support of UNICEF has developed the ECOWAS Social Protection Framework to guide development and implementation of comprehensive social protection systems.

The Commissioner pointed out that the framework builds on previous regional and international policies and instruments that are relevant to social protection, such as African Union (AU) instruments as well as the ECOWAS Member States’ legal frameworks.

She stressed that, while most people make a livelihood in the informal economy, most of the existing contributory social protection schemes cover only workers in the public sector and the formal private sector who represent barely 15% of the total population in the region.

“The development of social assistance schemes for people who cannot work, children, mothers with new-borns, persons with disabilities, older persons, those without jobs needs to be expedited to meet the needs of those who do not have access to social insurance schemes”, she said.
Also addressing participants of the meeting, the representative of UNICEF, Mrs Adebisi Arije stated that this meeting will enhance the understanding of principles of social protection and give a clear vision of the roles of governments and ECOWAS towards social protection. “Ultimately, we will like to see an ECOWAS of States with social security systems that impact on large numbers of the poorest and most vulnerable people”, she said.
Describing social protection as a fundamental priority, the permanent secretary and representative of Nigeria’s Minister of Labour, William Alo, highlighted that social protection is a human right. He stressed that “It is a key element of national strategies to promote human development, political stability and equitable and inclusive growth”.

“We (ECOWAS Member States) need to build broad coalitions within countries and across national boundaries to promote solutions to challenges in social protection”, he added.
The Social Protection framework plays a crucial role in realizing the right to social protection for all and will ultimately promote the achievement of social protection-related sustainable development goals.

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