Social protection

The German contribution: Policy dialogue, advisory services, financial support

Menschen in Afrika füllen bei einer Behörde Unterlagen aus. Urheberrecht: GIZ

Social protection is a cross-cutting issue of German de­vel­op­ment policy. Promotion generally takes place within wide-ranging programmes in the priority areas of sus­tain­able economic de­vel­op­ment, health, good governance and rural de­vel­op­ment.

Bilateral de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion's approach to promoting social pro­tec­tion principally involves policy dialogue, advisory services delivered by experts, train­ing for local experts and financial inputs. The impetus to es­tab­lish, develop or re­struc­ture social pro­tec­tion systems must come from the respective co­op­er­a­tion coun­try. Germany does not wish to export European social pro­tec­tion models: In order for co­op­er­a­tion coun­tries to be able to identify with the reforms in the medium and long term, Ger­man de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion takes account of past national experience, economic and social conditions, cultural values and social norms in each coun­try.

German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion therefore engages in activities at various levels: At in­ter­na­tional level the BMZ cooperates with global and regional orga­ni­sa­tions in order to promote the sharing of information and to coordinate mea­sures im­ple­ment­ed. At national level the BMZ’s most im­por­tant contacts are the govern­ments of the coun­tries it cooperates with, since it is they who bear overall re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for social pro­tec­tion and they set the relevant frame­work. Finally, at non-state level Ger­many cooperates with relevant social and pri­vate sec­tor stake­holders, for instance trade unions, trade associations, pro­fes­sion­al and charitable asso­ciations, insurance companies, non-governmental orga­ni­sa­tions, and micro-finance and research institutions.

Involving civil society

In its co­op­er­a­tion with counterpart coun­tries, Germany takes the position that it is the core task of every state to create the frame­work within which adequate social pro­tec­tion can be guaranteed for the entire popu­la­tion. Accordingly, the state should only intervene when private and individual pro­tec­tion sys­tems designed to ensure the minimum subsistence level have failed.

The task of the state is, above all, to create the enabling en­vi­ron­ment within which basic social, economic and environmental risks can be mitigated. The state should also create sufficient scope for private initiatives. Participation and direct re­spon­si­bil­i­ty on the part of civil society are im­por­tant principles when it comes to designing social protection systems.

Close cooperation with other donors

Over and above direct intergovernmental co­op­er­a­tion, Germany also supports the de­vel­op­ment of social protection systems in in­ter­na­tional forums such as the In­ter­na­tional Labour Orga­ni­za­tion (ILO), the OECD, the World Health Orga­ni­zation (WHO), the EU and the World Bank.

The German gov­ern­ment is par­tic­u­lar­ly active in its support of the Providing for Health Initiative (P4H), which was established in co­op­er­a­tion with France. Together with partner organisations such as the WHO, the ILO and the World Bank, Germany supports the coun­tries with which it co­operates in their en­dea­vours to develop the area of social protection with­in health systems and to place its funding on a sus­tain­able footing. The aim is to prevent im­pover­ish­ment in the event of ill­ness on account of having to pay for health care services and to create health services that are accessible to all.

Fields of activity

The BMZ cur­rent­ly pro­motes social protection systems in some 20 coun­tries as well as in the context of regional and global projects (as at: June 2012). The guid­ing prin­ciple is that sys­tems be developed on the basis of human rights criteria and that they should guarantee all popu­la­tion groups ac­cess to social pro­tec­tion. The main target group com­prises poor people, those at risk of pov­er­ty and vul­ner­able groups such as children and youth, women, minorities, the old, the sick and people with disabilities.

Social health protection:
About one billion people worldwide have no access to adequate and affordable health care. Every year, 100 million people drop below the poverty line because they have no health cost coverage. For poor people in particular, it is vital to have access to appropriate treatment when they are ill and to ensure that they maintain their capacity for work.

In its partner countries, Germany supports various systems for social health protection by providing advice and training, facilitating the exchange of experience and financing structural reforms in health care systems. A special focus is on giving poor and vulnerable groups access to basic health services, for instance through vouchers.

Thanks to Germany's support, more than 100 million people were given access to health insurance for the first time between 2014 and 2017 alone. In the period since 2010, as many as nearly 330 million people worldwide have been reached, meaning that poverty no longer constitutes a poverty risk for them.

Social protection in old age:
On account of the rise in life ex­pec­tan­cy the world over and a predicted tripling in the number of old people to two billion by 2050 (80 per cent of whom will be living in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and emerging eco­no­mies), de­vel­op­ing coun­tries now also need advisory services and support when it comes to establishing or reforming social pro­tec­tion in old age.

Various funding models are available: pension systems financed by con­tri­bu­tions paid by the working popu­la­tion; funded pension systems with private sector in­volve­ment; tax-funded basic pen­sion systems; and com­bi­na­tions of these mod­els. Germany supports its co­op­er­a­tion coun­tries in es­tab­lish­ing and funding ap­pro­pri­ate pension systems. The focus is not only on pro­viding fi­nan­cial sup­port. Better access to basic social services for old people is promoted in co­op­er­a­tion with the NGO HelpAge, for instance.

Basic social protection:
Basic protection programmes essentially benefit extremely poor households and par­tic­u­lar­ly vulnerable groups such as women, children, the elderly and people with dis­abilities. Through them they receive benefits in kind or in cash. The fi­nan­cial sup­port may be linked to cer­tain con­di­tions, for example school at­ten­dance for children or reg­u­lar visits to the doctor. These are known as con­di­tion­al basic pro­tec­tion pro­grammes. Social transfer pro­grammes of this kind have proved suc­cess­ful in combating pov­er­ty in many Latin American coun­tries in particular.

In this area, German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion takes the form of technical cooperation, for instance advisory services, training and capacity-building. Fi­nan­cial sup­port is pro­vided when a state needs to es­tab­lish or de­vel­op its social in­fra­struc­ture in order to meet the increased demand for and take-up of these services.

People with disabilities:
Modern social protection sys­tems aim to actively in­volve people with dis­abil­i­ties in society. They in­clude mea­sures to in­teg­rate people with dis­abil­i­ties into work­ing life. Family members and other care­givers also benefit from this sup­port. Ger­man de­vel­op­ment policy pro­motes the social in­teg­ra­tion of people with dis­abil­i­ties by adopting a "twin track" ap­proach. First­ly, specific measures are de­vel­op­ed and im­ple­mented for those with dis­abil­i­ties them­selves. Second­ly, Ger­man de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion aims to eliminate struc­tural social in­equalities in each of the coun­tries with which it cooperates.

Developing tailor-made models and instruments for extremely diverse risks and people’s individual situations is a very complex task. Ger­many tests various needs- and target group-based approaches to providing protection against these risks in the context of its de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion. Micro­in­sur­ance is one option for pro­vid­ing social pro­tec­tion for those employed in the in­for­mal sec­tor since it covers individual risks (e.g. sick­ness, death, weather and flood damage). The in­sur­ance is funded through relative­ly small con­tri­bu­tions and is some­times ad­min­is­ter­ed by the insured persons them­selves – for example at municipal level.

Germany promotes micro­insurance through, among other things, providing financing for feasibility studies, funds for the establishment of micro­insurance companies and risk equalisation funds at close-to-market con­di­tions. Fund­ing is made avail­able on condition that the insurer can prove that the scheme is fi­nan­cial­ly viable and will not re­quire ex­ter­nal sup­port in the medium term. In addition, the micro­in­sur­ance must match demand from the popu­la­tion and demonstrably improve the living con­di­tions of those insured. A further condition is that the insurance be inclusive, i.e. that large parts of the popu­la­tion in fact have access to the products.

Systemic consulting:
Many of the coun­tries with which Germany cooperates need advice when it comes to integrating existing social protection systems to create a balanced overall structure and improving the legal and institutional conditions accordingly. Germany supports the relevant consulting for experts and organisations and thus contributes to the creation of efficient, trans­pa­rent, and socially and gender equitable structures in its co­op­er­a­tion coun­tries. Experts and managers undergo training to that end. In addition, support is provided to cross-sectoral, national policy dialogue with the relevant actors. The aim is to help overcome political resistance and to realise wide-ranging reforms.

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