A Changing Landscape
Since the adoption of the National Social Support Policy (NSSP) in 2012, the context in which the policy operates has changed significantly. The Malawi National Social Support Programme (MNSSP) operationalised the NSSP and came into effect in 2013, expiring in 2016. A successor program, the 2018 - 2023 MNSSP II, presents a shock responsive social protection (SRSP) system. Since the policy was put into place, additional social protection programmes have been designed and are being implemented, more partners have joined the sector, and other policy documents, such as the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, have been revised. The Vision 2020 policy document came to an end in 2020 and its replacement is being developed. The overall policy background has also shifted with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The changing social protection landscape in terms of both operation and ambition demands adoption of a new policy that builds on lessons from a review of the 2012 NSSP that is aligned with the current context and future needs of Malawians. National policies are living documents, and as such, they require periodic review to ensure representation of the current aspirations of the people.
A Policy that Leaves No One Behind
The Government of Malawi, with support from the UN Joint Programme: Social Protection for the Sustainable Development Goals, is engaging in a review of the NSSP. The review is an inclusive, gender sensitive, data-driven, and consultative process that will lead to strengthening the legal framework and the sustainability of social protection in the country, and will support the continuous extension of social protection for all, in particular the poorest and most vulnerable, leaving no one behind.
A Government-Led Initiative
A Policy Review Taskforce comprised of relevant government ministries, departments, and agencies (Office of the President and Cabinet, Department of Economic Planning and Development, Social Welfare, Labour, Local Government, Education, Health and Agriculture) is leading and providing direction and guidance to the review process.
The first step of the review process was to compile and analyze the available evidence of the efficacy and inclusiveness of the 2012 NSSP. This step included a robust review of relevant literature and consultative meetings with the Policy Review Taskforce, and national, district, and community-level stakeholders. Regional meetings were convened to target district-level stakeholders; similarly, community meetings were held to ensure the inclusion of community members’ voices in the review. Under the guidance of the Policy Review Taskforce, this process culminated in a Policy Analysis Document (PAD) which is a crucial tool to update the NSSP.
The PAD will lead to a Policy Framework Document (PFD), which upon further consultations and validation from the Social Protection Steering and Technical Committees, donors, partners, and other stakeholders at both national and district levels, will translate into an updated NSSP for Malawi.
Finally, with the updated NSSP, work can begin on the drafting of the social protection legal framework. The framework will define the minimal levels of protection that need to be offered, and will clarify coordination, governance, and accountability mechanisms to compel the state to progressively allocate resources from the annual national budget, which will in turn ensure the sustainability of the social protection system in Malawi.
A Cohesive Approach
The establishment of the social protection legal framework is intrinsically linked to the two other components of the joint programme: read more here about how the programme is supporting the Government of Malawi to finalize its social protection financing strategy, and here to view the SRSP prototype.