TASHKENT, 17 December 2021, – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized a meeting for national and international development partners to discuss the achievements of the UN Joint Programme on Strengthening Social Protection in Uzbekistan and to foster actions for social protection strengthening in the context of the ongoing reforms and COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, co-chaired by the Deputy Minister of Finance and UNICEF Representative for Uzbekistan, hosted more than 40 participants from the line ministries, national stakeholders, as well as international development organizations, foreign embassies and UN agencies.
“The Joint Programme in Uzbekistan reflects Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection to achieve Sustainable Development Goals through the integration of main principles in the local context: social protection throughout the lifecycle; universal coverage; sustainable and equitable financing; civil society participation and social dialogue, especially with persons with disabilities by leaving no one behind. We appreciate all national and development partners who provide their continuous support to the successful implementation of social protection reforms in the country and look forward to their renewed commitment in 2022 and beyond.” - Mr. Munir Mamedzade, UNICEF Representative for Uzbekistan.
In 2020, UNICEF, ILO and UNDP combined their efforts within the UN Joint Programme on Social Protection in Uzbekistan with the aim of building a comprehensive architecture of social protection system that will consider the needs of vulnerable groups and ensure that no-one is left behind. The Programme was financially supported by the UN Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund with a twofold purpose: improving social protection systems to accelerate progress towards achievement of SDGs and to enhance multilateral collaboration.
The social protection system in Uzbekistan was fragmented at institutional, policy and programme levels, which resulted in ineffective leadership over the significant component of the government’s portfolio of programmes aimed at the population’s welfare and reduced impact of financial investments. As the social protection system is based on a non-universal principle, welfare programmes could not reach all vulnerable groups contributing to social exclusion, marginalisation, deepening poverty, inequality and hindering economic growth. As a result, the social protection system covered 55% of the population, primarily through social insurance that reached 44% of the population. Only one out of three persons living in poverty received some social benefits.
Within the UN Joint Programme, UNICEF facilitated institutional reforms to ensure that leadership of the social protection system is consolidated and strengthened while programme delivery is enhanced. This includes a unified institution providing social protection. Jointly with the Ministry of Finance and other relevant ministries a draft decree on establishing the Agency of Social Protection was developed. The document outlined the agency’s main functions, structure and a plan on introduction of advanced approaches in provision of social services like makhalla-level social work based on case management.
During the Programme, the Single Registry of Social Protection was piloted and spread out nationwide. It removed administrative barriers, provided with clear eligibility criteria, and simplified the payment process. It resulted in a 5-fold rise in the monthly number of submitted applications from 80,000 to 400,000 and the overall coverage of vulnerable population from around 600 000 to 1.2 mln.
The ILO within the Programme focused on supporting the Government of Uzbekistan in developing the first national strategy for social protection. On February 17, 2021, the President of the Republic signed a decree No. 5634 “On measures to improve the system of social protection of the population of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2021-2030” that also approved the Concept of the National Strategy for Social Protection for 2021-2030 and Roadmap for the development of the NSSP for 2021-2030. Subsequently, fully fledged National Strategy for Social Protection 2022-2030 with measures to improve social assistance schemes, social insurance, access of persons who face multiple barriers when seeking employment to labour market policies and social care services was developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with social partners and representatives of persons with disabilities. It is accompanied by a three-year costed Action Plan and options for fiscal space for social protection. Review of national legislation to ensure compliance with international social security standards is underway.
UNDP has supported the rights of vulnerable groups of the population, particularly of persons with disabilities. It advocated for the ratification and implementation of UN CRPD, helped fostering knowledge and expertise to support the planned transition to the International Classification of Functioning in the assessment of disability, disability statistics collection, accessible infrastructure and public services.
These achievements determine the outset of a long journey to ensure the human right for social protection for all. The participating UN agencies called for further support to Uzbekistan in reforming its social protection system, implementing tasks outlined in the National Strategy for Social Protection, integration of planning and provision of social services and social benefits, building the capacity of agencies on coordination and delivery of social protection schemes, ensuring inclusiveness of different groups, including persons with disability and informal workers.