Virtual Discussion program on exploring the Potentialities of Shock Responsive Social Protection in Nepal

  Dec 27, 2020

Virtual Discussion program on exploring the Potentialities of Shock Responsive Social Protection in Nepal was coordinated by DPNet-Nepal and organized by Save the Children International, Atullya Foundation, CBDRM Platform, IFRC, SPCSN on 23rd December 2020. 104 participants joined the program in the presence of Honorable Dr. Ram Kumar Phuyal Member of National Planning Commission (NPC) as a Chief Guest and Mr. Bishnu Dutta Gautam, Joint Secretary of MoFAGA as a Special Guest. Sign language interpretation and closed captioning facilities were also provided in the program for the person with disabilities. Mr. Surya Bahadur Thapa, Chairperson, and Raju Thapa General Secretary DPNet-Nepal have moderated the program.
Ms. Jenifer Syed, Country Director Save the children delivered welcome remarks. She thanked honorable Chief Guest and Special Guests for participating, organizers for conducting the event, and all participants including government representatives, UN agencies, I/NGOs, Red Cross Movement, Civil Society, and so on. In her remarks, she stated that shock responsive social protection is the quickest and effective way to respond to disasters, though it's new in Nepal it's interesting to see its implementation. Save the Children has focused on child-sensitive social protection since 2011. She hopes that the program will reach to the wider stakeholder group. The program will be useful to better understand the existing social protection system, and explore potentialities to implement in emergency response and what it means to localize investment in shock responsive social protection. 
Mr. Benzamin Zeitlyn, Social Development Adviser, FCDO, British Embassy highlighted SRSP in the opening remarks of the program. He stated that we were very supportive in delivering vouchers to vulnerable people during COVID-19 in Nepal but we couldn’t manage to get support to vulnerable people until October, we couldn't provide cash due to the restrictions of the government. He cited the example of the hunger SafetyNet program in Kenya, where the unconditional cash grant was provided through bank to 25% of Households during the drought, if the drought is severe additional 25% of Household gets support, if the drought is extreme 75% receive support. In Nepal emergency response is slow, we should be able to do better, we don't know when shocks will come, but we need to get prepared. Using the existing social protection system is very easier to respond to the crisis, Nepal has the system and data of beneficiary, but why don’t Government use the system to respond to disasters, maybe due to lack of adequate capacity. Nepal may still be relying upon humanitarian agency support for some more years, so SRSP can replace the humanitarian agency support. 
Mr. Birendra Pokhrel, former chairperson of National Federation of Disabled Nepal (NFDN) in his remarks stated that looking through the lens of social protection, people with disabilities are most vulnerable and represent the deprived community and the risk factors is high. He suggested how we can include the issues of persons with disabilities in shock responsive social protection system. The policies have tried to make the person with disability inclusive but still needs to do more in implementation. National Reconstruction Authority in 'Post Disaster Need Assessment' and 'Post-earthquake Reform Plan' has included issues of persons with disabilities in good way, but there is a gap in implementation. The social security allowance provided by the government doesn't fully support the person with a disability. Cash transfer is very important for this group during disaster response. He requested coordination with the person with a disability for such programs. He also shared about the major provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and its linkage to SRSP.
Mr. Hemanta Dangal, from Save the Children, highlighted the presentation entitled "Supporting Children’s Nutrition Using Child Grant Beneficiary Database in Covid-19 Pandemic". He shared the background of humanitarian support conducted by SCI during COVID-19, beneficiary targeting/outreach confirmed after the decision from the municipal board, new enrollment program, and grievance handling mechanism implemented. His presentation also included information about supporting children's nutrition using the child grant beneficiary database. Overall, he shared the experience and lessons of implementing the Child Sensitive Social Protection program SCI implemented in 2011. 
Mr. Bishnu Dutta Gautam, Joint Secretary MOFAGA, thanked the organizers for conducting the contextual program. He said this is a new subject and different countries have their own approaches to social protection, depending upon the financial resource of a specific country. Now we need to think from a different perspective considering the COVID-19 pandemic so that the vulnerable community can recover. COVID-19 has generated lessons for the Government of Nepal to think from a different perspective. The practice of community support in a proactive way during disasters using the existing social protection system is also SRSP. Sometimes it is complicated, depends on the activation of SRSP with reference to the level of shock, identifying real beneficiary is also quite difficult, sometimes, people who don’t need support are receiving the support and the actual affected is missing, meeting the resource gap is challenging since the COVID-19 has affected the world and donors are also not in the position to support fully. Local-level has a vital role in identifying beneficiaries, cash model is an easy model practiced in developed countries, if we are able to strengthen the database system, cash transfer can be a good option for SRSP. If we work in a coordinated way, we can roll out SRSP at the local level. 
Ms. Jyoti Pandey from World Bank presented the National and International Experience Sharing on SRSP. She emphasized the preparation of the database and information prior to the disaster and after the disaster, we can deliver a timely and effective response. Her presentation included the impact of COVID-19 and social protection, building blocks of SRSP (adaptive, information, adaptive program, and adaptive financing). She shared that many countries have responded using social protection systems either by introducing a new scheme or by expanding existing programs. She cited the example of the productive SafetyNet program in Ethiopia and Pantawid in the Philippines where nationwide conditional cash transfer aimed at alleviating poverty and improving the health, nutrition, and education of poor children. During the COVID-19 response, the Panatawid program was scaled up along with other schemes. Furthermore, she shared the status of SRSP in Nepal stating that the delivery system is still nascent, programs, and financing related to SRSP. She also said that NDRRMA could facilitate to establish of a separate cell/unit for social protection. 
Mr. Bishnu Lamichhane from the Department of National ID and Civil Registration (DONIDCR) presented about the Social Protection and Governance in Nepal. His presentation included the concept of social security in Nepal, initiation, and types of social security allowance. 
Honorable Dr. Ram Kumar Phuyal, Member of NPC, and Chief Guest of the program shared about the status where Nepal Government is in SRSP. He shared about the constitutional provisions relating to the rights and stated that the 15th periodic plan has included the equitable distribution of resources and has also planned the inclusion of disaster sensitive development package and aims that 60% Nepalese will be under social protection within 5 years to achieve this aim. He further shared that NPC prepared the Integrated National Social Framework 2077 and it will soon be endorsed and implemented. Sometimes, the needy people are excluded due to data mismanagement so we are working on a need-based, right-based, and contribution-based approach for social protection. The weak coordination and collaboration mechanism between ministries and different agencies have also created problems in the social protection system. However, after the promulgation of Integrated National Social framework 2077, the coordination collaboration and social protection system will be strengthened. 
Major Concerns
•    While conducting ranking, there might be challenges in identifying beneficiaries, so how can we take it ahead.
•    We expect that the government will be taking action in promoting people with disabilities inclusive of information, programs, and infrastructure. Would be better, if a person with disabilities will be included in the capacity building program.  
•    Issues of interlinkages of social protection and humanitarian assistance should be discussed. Cash transfer is kind of skeptical in Nepal, so we need to change our attitude, why not cash, we should not doubt cash transfer and not only focus on kind support. 
Mr. Tilottam Paudel, Chairperson of Social Protection Civil Society Network (SPSCN) in his closing remarks, thanked organizers, Chief Guest, Special Guest, Speakers, and participants for their presence, time, and effort. He added that such programs will be helpful to highlight the need for SRSP in Nepal. He thanked Dr. Phuyal for his contribution in bringing out the Integrated National Social Framework. 
Mr. Raju Thapa, General Secretary of DPNet and Coordinator of Sphere Coordination Committee proposed to form an Expert Team to prepare a recommendation to be submitted to the Government, donors, and concerned stakeholders. He thanked all presenters, participants, organizers, and closed the program.