Government of Uzbekistan and United Nations launch joint initiative to accelerate social protection for the most vulnerable
TASHKENT, 19 September 2019 – Aziz Abdukhakimov, the Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, and Helena Fraser, United Nations Resident Coordinator, spearheaded discussions on the issues of social protection in the country. Parliamentarians, representatives of ministries and UN agencies including UNICEF, UNDP and ILO participated in the meeting.
In 2018, the UN Secretary-General launched a fund to accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goals around the world. This SDG Fund is a financing mechanism to support countries to deliver on their commitment to ‘leave no one behind.’ The first allocation from the Fund will support initiatives to develop and implement social protection measures, in order to reduce and prevent vulnerability.
Across the globe, UN teams in 114 countries worked with respective Governments to apply for this fund. Only 24 of these teams made it through, and one of them is Uzbekistan. .
“Despite good initial efforts by countries to nationalize the SDGs by identifying priorities in domestic contexts, it is widely acknowledged that the ambition of Agenda 2030 requires a rapid acceleration of efforts and results. This means getting the right economic, social and environmental policies in place and taking them to scale as quickly as possible,” said Helena Fraser, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan. “Here in Uzbekistan, we believe investing in a robust, coherent social protection system that draws on best global standards and experience will help Uzbekistan’s ambitious national development agenda to succeed while protecting the most vulnerable.”
In partnership with Government, the UN team in Uzbekistan has developed a joint programme on social protection which prioritizes institutional reform and will ensure pilot programmes benefitting people with disabilities.
In Uzbekistan, social protection functions are currently distributed across multiple ministries and agencies, and although Uzbekistan has invested about 8-9% of its GDP in social protection and committed to SDG targets on social protection, gaps in the system have been growing in recent years. Most people with disabilities are not adequately covered by social protection. Social allowances have decreased considerably with two-thirds of eligible low-income families with children not receiving any support. Only 10% of eligible people have access to social allowances and active labour market programmes, and 30% of persons of pensionable age have no access to income security.
“The lack of integration at policy and institutional levels is a root cause of ineffectiveness and inefficiencies. This means that social protection cannot be effectively provided to any group,” said Sascha Graumann, Representative, UNICEF. He added that “in practice, this means that people in need cannot obtain the services or support they are entitled to and don’t even know where to turn to secure their entitlements. Creation of a single body would enable an integrated approach to address the needs of individuals, families and children.”