Fiscal space for child-sensitive social protection in the Middle East and North Africa region

Slide presentation of the webinar held on 12 December 2019. This webinar discussed the possibilities that MENA countries might have to free up resources to scale up social protection expenditures.

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Well-coordinated cash transfers and social services support families and safeguard children, ensuring the realisation and advancement of child rights for all children. Cash transfers and social support services are integral components of social protection systems in Europe and Central Asia. This brief summarises research and evaluation evidence on the effectiveness of different social protection programmes, i.e. cash transfers and social services on wider aspects of child wellbeing in the region. 

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Children from poor households are more likely to receive poor healthcare, inadequate nutrition, achieve lower educational attainment and consequently not achieve their full potential. They are likely to grow up into poor adults and continue the intergenerational transmission of poverty.

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Social protection policies can help address the multifaceted nature of child poverty and improve children’s well-being, especially in the areas of education, health and nutrition. Providing adequate social protection to children is particularly relevant in the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as multidimensional child poverty remains a major concern in the region. Today, the scope and adequacy of the region’s social protection systems remain limited.

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Across the world, 385 million children are struggling to survive on less than US$1.90 a day, and more than 663 million – or 1 in 3 – are living in multidimensionally poor households. Social vulnerabilities, resulting from personal characteristics and societal dynamics such as age, disability, ethnicity and gender, further compound the impacts of poverty and deprivation. The implications of child poverty and vulnerability are felt most immediately by children themselves, but also profoundly by societies and economies as a whole.

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Social protection policies can help address the multifaceted nature of child poverty and improve children’s well-being, especially in the areas of education, health and nutrition. However, it is important to consider the gender-, age- and context-specific needs and vulnerabilities of children during all stages of the policy cycle. This issue of Policy in Focus presents a collection of 15 articles from leading scholars, researchers and policy practitioners, shedding light on the key challenges of promoting social protection programmes for children.

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Reflections on the International Conference on Universal Child Grants

Children’s Right to Social Protection in the Middle East and North Africa: An analysis of legal frameworks from a child-rights perspective

Morocco is a lower-middle-income country in North Africa. In 2016 its population was estimated at 35.27 million, of whom 10 per cent (3.5 million) are under the age of 5 and 32 per cent (11.4 million) are under the age of 18. Although its poverty rate fell from 15.3 per cent in 2001 to 4.8 per cent in 2014, regional disparities remain a cause for concern, since 74 per cent of the poorest population are concentrated in only 5 of the 12 regions.

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