27 November 2020, Tashkent, Uzbekistan – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) presented the progress, achievements and future plans of the Joint Programme on Strengthening Social Protection in Uzbekistan, implemented with the Government.
Co-chaired by the Deputy Minister of Finance and UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan, the Annual Reporting and Donors Meeting hosted over 40 participants from the relevant government ministries, national stakeholders, including the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan, Confederation of Employees of Uzbekistan, Association of the Disabled People of Uzbekistan, as well as international donor organizations and the UN agencies.
“The people of Uzbekistan, like billions of people around the world, faced a number of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has made significant successful attempts to mitigate the consequences of the crisis. Together with the international community, we seek to build a social protection system which will be resilient to the pandemic and other disasters, and support people in any circumstances. The UN Joint Programme is one of such tools we are using on our way.” – Mr. Jamshid Abruev, Deputy Minister of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
In January 2020 UNICEF, ILO and UNDP launched the Joint Programme with the Government of Uzbekistan on Strengthening Social Protection System in Uzbekistan. The programme aims to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the social protection system in Uzbekistan as envisioned in 2020 State Programme. The programme supports Uzbekistan in: i) developing National Strategy on Social Protection; ii) designing an effective institutional setup for interagency coordination in policy making and delivery of social protection; and iii) introducing best international practices in disability assessment and social protection of vulnerable and most at risk population in line with the key principle of the 2030 Agenda ‘Leaving No One Behind’.
“The UN Joint Programme on Strengthening Social Protection is a fantastic opportunity to reduce fragmentation in the social protection system of Uzbekistan. Spending on social protection should be seen as an investment into achieving the national sustainable development priorities, including in the area of reducing poverty and inequality (SDG1 and SDG10), ensuring healthy lives and wellbeing (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), as well as decent work and economic growth (SDG 8). Investments in social protection also help ensure that no one is left behind, and also focus on such often-neglected group as people with disabilities, who are an important and integral part of our society” - Ms. Helena Fraser, UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan.
In 2020, the UN Joint Programme established strategic partnership with key national stakeholders. In consultation with relevant ministries and agencies, the Joint Programme developed concepts of the National strategy of social protection and institutional reform options. It conducted capacity building training courses on introduction of ICF (International Classification of Functioning) on disability assessment, as well as launched a micro-grants initiative for civil society organizations of persons with disabilities to support the local user-led social initiatives.
“Jointly with the Government of Uzbekistan, we are working on building a strong coordination mechanism in the field. A strong social protection system is able to reduce the life-long irreversible impact of poverty on children,” said Mr. Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan. “In order to take advantage of the demographic dividend in the future, Uzbekistan must start making appropriate investment into its children and youth, today.”
“By drafting the concept of national social protection strategy, under the coordination of the Ministry of Finance, constituents have made significant first step towards designing comprehensive national social protection system. The national strategy will ensure that people enjoy income security and have effective access to health and other social services and are empowered to take advantage of economic opportunities. These polices will play a key role in boosting domestic demand, supporting the transformation of enterprises, promoting decent work, and fostering inclusive and sustainable growth which is fundamental to realising the human right to social security for all. – Ms. Olga Koulaeva, Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Country Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia
“Working in close collaboration with Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, the UNDP aims to ensure that the social protection system is inclusive and provides opportunity for equal participation to all members of the society. The Pillar 3 of the UN Joint Programme on Social Protection aims to re-examine the disability assessment and determination process in Uzbekistan to provide better access to services for persons with disabilities. We continue supporting the Government of Uzbekistan in the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” – Ms. Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan.
“The SDG Fund welcomes the adoption of the new law "On the rights of persons with disabilities" in Uzbekistan. We will assist the government in the adoption of disability inclusive national strategy on social protection. We believe that no society will ever achieve the sustainable development goals without the full and inclusive integration and participation of all human beings, including people with disabilities.” – highlighted Ms. Lisa Kurbiel, Head of the Joint SDG Fund Secretariat.
In 2021, the Joint Programme, in partnership with the Government and key national partners, will develop and approve a National strategy of social protection, costed institutional design concept for the integrated social protection system, launch pilots on introduction of ICF in disability assessment and community-based social services, strengthen capacity of the Government staff on delivering integrated social protection, further develop and operationalize the Single Registry, a management information system for social protection.
After the Joint Programme presentation, participants discussed future possible developments in the field and provided their expert advice on the improvement of the activities planned in 2021.