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Social protection focal points in FAO shared experiences during a regional training and strategic planning meeting in Nairobi

FAO Regional Office for Africa

A three-day workshop bringing together people from 35 African countries has charted the way forward for social protection initiatives in Africa and established a network of focal points to enhance social protection work of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in agri-food systems and Africa’s agricultural transformation.

“The workshop has really put social protection at the fore of the work we do in Africa to achieve affordable healthy diet and will ultimately lead to better lives for the vulnerable communities we serve,” said Bintia Stephen Tchicaya, FAO’s Regional Social Protection Programme Lead at the end of the meeting held from 27 to 29 June in Nairobi.

 This meeting convened by the FAO Regional Office for Africa, brought together FAO Social Protection Focal Points from 35 countries in Africa, including social protection specialists from the FAO Regional Office and Headquarters for a regional training, strategic planning, and knowledge- and experience-sharing on social protection.

It aimed to increase awareness on regional priorities and initiatives on social protection, and share country experiences, best practices and key knowledge of FAO products/tools on social protection that will guide and strengthen social protection work at country and regional levels.

Key outcomes achieved

This meeting was an opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of Social Protection Corporate Strategic Direction and Initiatives as well as regional thematic priorities and to develop a social protection action plans for 2022-23. The 35 country representatives increased their awareness and understanding of the role of social protection linked to FAO’s strategic framework and its role in the achievement of regional priorities for agricultural transformation. They learned from the country’s successes and best practices in social protection and enhanced their awareness of the FAO tools available to strengthen social protection systems in countries and raise awareness on importance of social protection for the achievements of agri-food systems. Finally, the meeting enable team building, experience sharing and the development of a Regional Action Plan for FAO Social Protection work in Africa 2022-2023

“This has been a historic workshop for us in the Africa region and this is a journey for all of us for social protection in Africa and towards the Africa We Want. However, I have one last request, and that is to call on you to mobilize your country to ratify the AU Protocol on the Rights of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security adopted by the African Heads of State in February this year,” said Bintia Stephen Tchicaya to all the participants when summarizing the outcomes of the meeting.

FAO has a key role to play in linking social protection to agriculture

In several African countries, the populations are facing vulnerabilities due to climate and man-made disasters, health epidemics, food insecurity and conflicts. Coverage of poor and vulnerable population by existing social protection systems especially those in the rural areas remains low and with gaps in the system unable to respond adequately to economic downturns and unprecedented covariate shocks. However, evidence shows that adequate social protection promotes inclusive growth and increases productivity and employability. Social protection is becoming increasingly prominent in national-long-term development strategies. FAO is strengthening capacities in order to support Governments and other stakeholders to better respond to the needs and challenges of establishing inclusive and sustainable social protection systems that synergize with rural development policies and initiatives, and are shock responsive.

FAO fully engaged to support Kenya in social protection interventions

FAO in Kenya has collaborated with the Government on several programmes/interventions related to the extension of social protection for increased economic inclusion for the poorest and vulnerable households in the rural economy. As a member of the National Social Protection Secretariat and Child and Social Protection Committee (under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework UNDAF). “FAO continues to support government efforts to enhance coordination mechanisms to achieve the objectives of the framework” noted Carla Mucavi, FAO Representative in Kenya

Representing the Permanent Secretary of State Department for Social Protection, Senior Citizenship Affairs, and Special Programmes of Kenya, Jane Muyanga thanked FAO and partners for the continued support and affirmed that this training will help to optimize regional and national social protection systems and tools and learn from Kenyan experience in social protection and shared some key achievements:

She mentioned that FAO plays a crucial role in the social protection sector.  “Food Security remains a challenge to many of our vulnerable groups. It is my hope, that apart from ensuring that households have food security, it is critical for beneficiaries to be enlighted on their nutritional status and especially that of children.”

Social protection to mainstream into all FAO activities

After this meeting, all the participants agreed, among others, to help finalize a terms of reference for social protection focal points, to raise awareness and increase understanding of agri-food systems transformation and to design programs and support studies to provide evidence-based policy advice. « I am happy we were able together to achieve the outcomes we had set for ourselves and to have been able to meet most of your expectations. As you return back to your respective countries, your first action will be to provide a briefing to your FAO Representatives as well as your project and programme teams on the regional action plan we have developed which was based on your priority actions to deliver on the Country Programming Framework (CPF) and recommendations of the 32nd Regional Conference for Africa (ARC32),” Bintia Stephen-Tchicaya said in her closing remarks.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.

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