On 1 March 2018, HelpAge International and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth organised the second in a three part webinar series focused on the role of social accountability in the delivery of social protection. The recording is available here and the presentation here.
The event explored approaches to social accountability through two case studies. The first was the Zanzibar Universal Pension Scheme (ZUPS), a non-contributory social pension available to all older Zanzibaris aged 70 years and above (approximately 25,000 older people). Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania with a population of almost 1 million.
The second case study was the Social Protection and Poverty Reduction programme in Indonesia, which has a number of integrated social protection programmes and services aimed to reduce poverty and inequality in the population. The population of Indonesia is more than 260 million, and just over 10% of the population are identified as poor.
Government commitment and civil society pressure: The Zanzibar experience
The first speaker, Salum Rashid Mohamed (Head of the Social Protection Unit, Zanzibar) explained how pressure from older people and civil society, helped to bring about ZUPS. This political accountability continues to be important: older persons groups and civil society organisations pressure the government for the effective implementation of ZUPS. For example, calling for an increase to the relatively low value of the transfer and lowering of the eligibility age.
Salum described the complaints and appeals mechanism of ZUPS. He explained that it had not yet been fully implemented due to capacity and resource constraints. Common concerns being raised by older people were being unable to register due to lack of documentation, dishonesty from ‘representatives’ (a friend or family member assigned to collect the payment on behalf of the older person), and the long distance of paypoints.
Whilst the complaints and appeals mechanism was still under development, Older Person’s Forums played an important role in providing information to older people about the programme, helping them to raise any complaints, and linking them to the relevant authorities. The simplicity of the social pension design also helped to reduce the amount of complaints based on misunderstanding about selection or payment processes. The scheme has simple eligibility criteria, a flat rate benefit level, and a simple and easy application process.
On the issue of government responsiveness to citizen demand, the main takeaways from Zanzibar, were the importance of working politically in a constructive and collaborative way to achieve change. Salum noted how it was important for civil society to engage high-level and influential leaders and make use of members of parliament. He also said that the use of evidence and existing standards and commitments set out in policies and presidential statements made a difference in motivating government responsiveness.
Single Window Service as an effective tool for Indonesia
The second speaker, Abdurrahman Syebubakar (Chief Technical Advisor, Integrated Referral and Service (IRS) System for Social Protection and Poverty Reduction), presented the Indonesian scenario. He described the Integrated Referral and Service System (known as SLRT in Bahasa).
Abdurrahman said that the objective of the SLRT is to connect the needs of the poor with social services through face to face contact. The intention is to resolve the majority of complaints at local level and keep costs low.
He described some of the key features and good practices of the SLRT as being:
- Integration into existing local mechanisms and institutions which helps encourage local authorities to take ownership of the system.
- The SLRT is vertically linked to programmes and services at the local level, and horizontally linked to district level programmes. This helps ensure that people can be directed to the most appropriate service or programme according to their needs.
- The system also makes use of web-based and phone-based applications linked to the programme management information system. This helps with tracking referrals, avoiding duplications, and providing data for monitoring and evaluation.
- The design of the SLRT has helped address some of the challenges of the previous complaints and appeals mechanism, including people’s preference for face-to-face channels and mobility/physical access issues. For example, providing multiple channels for receiving and resolving complaints (e.g. community outreach through a facilitator, officials at various levels of administration, local line agencies) face to face.
The main challenge currently facing SLRT is to roll it out to more locations of Indonesia and secure budget commitment for this beyond 2019. During 2016-17, SLRT had been rolled out to 90 locations, with plans to open in a further 60 new locations in 2018. The costs for the SLRT are currently shared between the national and local government budgets.
The webinar session finished with participants answering questions from the online audience.
Next in the Webinar Series
The third webinar will take place in April 2018. It will consider the enabling environment for social accountability, that is the role of national legal frameworks and international conventions and instruments, the willingness and capacity of state actors to respond, and the role of information systems and technology.
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Watch the webinar recording here!
This blog post is published as part of the Webinar Series, which brings together the summaries of webinars organised by socialprotection.org and partners on a variety of themes related to social protection. If you have any thoughts on the topic discussed, we would love to hear them. Please add your comments below and we will get back to you.