Social protection in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is traditionally characterised by a reliance on universal food, fuel and utility subsidies and on contributory insurance schemes. While social insurance systems are in place for those in the civil service and in formal employment, they provide only limited protection for workers outside the formal labour market. There is widely acknowledged evidence that subsidies are badly targeted and, therefore, inefficient in the fight against poverty and vulnerability. As a result, several countries (such as Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia) have started phasing out subsidies and redirecting social investments into direct, in most cases, targeted cash transfers.
This webinar offered a closer look at the current state of social protection in MENA and some of the main challenges in the region. Rana Jawad (Senior Lecturer at University of Bath, UK) provided a short historical overview of the development of social protection systems, exploring whether we are witnessing a new paradigm of social policy action in MENA. Rana argues that although national governments have recognised the need to improve quality and coverage of social security and social safety nets, these often remain fragmented. Markus Loewe (Head of research team "Middle East and North Africa", German Development Institute) presented a comparison of the public pension systems in MENA, highlighting that they often have no substantial impact on poverty and contribute to inequality due to their generally low coverage and regressive redistribution. In addition, Markus discussed recent reforms in the pension systems in the region.
This webinar is part of a series with experts on Social Protection in the Middle East and North Africa. Please join the Online Community Social Protection in MENA if you are interested in following the most recent discussions on the topic.
Rana Jawad, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, University of Bath
Markus Loewe, Research Team Leader, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Charlotte Bilo, Researcher, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth
Access the slide presentation here