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Views from Africa on social protection

Sylvia Beales, Ageing and Development

July 2005

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Social protection, including cash transfers, is being recommended as an effective way to deliver aid to the poorest. The question is: are donors willing to invest? Sylvia Beales discusses the views of donors and African governments.

High on the agenda of the G8 Summit in Scotland in July 2005 is the response of the rich world to the crippling, persistent poverty and disempowerment of the poor world. The call for more and better aid for the world's poorest people will also be the centre-piece of the July-December 2005 UK presidency of the European Union.

In May 2005, European Union member states announced a doubling of aid by 2010 to reach the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of GDP. How this aid will reach the poorest will also be discussed in the UN member states' review of the Millennium Summit in New York in September 2005.

Africa is a special focus of attention at these events. On the table are a package of proposals developed by the Commission for Africa, a team of 17 high-ranking academics, politicians and serving ministers, nine of whom are African.

The Commission's report, Our common interest,1 places action on the poorest at its heart, calling for 'investment in people'. This means not only increasing aid to Africa by US$50 billion a year by 2015, but also developing social protection strategies, including cash transfers, in all African countries by 2007.

Donors are asked to support the African Union's NEPAD programme to develop a rights and inclusion framework, and to support countries to develop social protection strategies. Commissioners are calling for long-term and predictable funding for social protection, with the allocation of US$2billion funding immediately, rising to US$5-6 billion by 2015.

HelpAge International consulted widely with its network in Africa on core issues for the Commission for Africa, and input evidence regularly to the commissioners. Older women and men highlighted the urgent need for better governance and equitable social protection, including regular cash transfers.

  1. Our common interest, Commission for Africa, 2005,

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