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Dec 3, 2018

Establishing a Comprehensive Social Protection System in Belize

A five-day conference kicked off today in Belize City. Policy makers are attempting to strengthen what is in place to eliminate poverty among the various pockets of the vulnerable populations. Issues of healthcare, income security for children, the elderly or the disabled are also on the table. On the first day, social protection registries and an improvement on deliverables were the focus. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The first in a series of conferences began today at the Biltmore Plaza in Belize City. The workshop, which will address the social protection policy in Belize, is bringing together experts from various sectors as well as civil society partners to generate commitment on strengthening the policy. The idea is to bolster initiatives that address poor and vulnerable populations through social insurance programmes, assistance programmes such as BOOST and Pantry, healthcare as well as looking at active labour market policies. The conference is being hosted by the Ministry of Human Development Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation; the first was done back in 2012.

 

Mark Antrobus

Mark Antrobus, Social Planner, Ministry of Human Development

“There’s three real objectives to this week. One is to review the progress we’ve made in those last six years. Second is to integrate the sustainable development goals into social protection and our work. And the third is to chart the way forward for the next five to six years. Social protection is important for everybody; and it really looks at helping people get out of poverty and also preventing people from falling into poverty, so it is applicable for everybody. People may have a very good job and feel very well-off right now, but we don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow. You may lose your job; you may become disabled so there should be a social safety net that helps you in those circumstances.”

 

That social safety net is made up of different actors, but primarily the government of Belize. In 2016-2017, a comprehensive review shows that Belize has many programmes in place, close to fifty, but a formalized social protection system is not in place. Those recommendations will be discussed during this week’s conference in an effort to increase coverage and targeted groups.

 

Michel Guinand

Michel Guinand, Programme Coordinator/Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF Belize

“During this workshop, we will share experience from other country so basically Jamaica and Colombia will share their experience in terms of building a social protection system that is comprehensive. We will see also the need to have good data system in registry so that one part of the support that we will be providing. And of course we will start by sharing general concepts on what social protection means and what social protection flaw means. So we will then work on what are the possible ways and roadmap or work plan for Belize to adapt a social protection floor.”

 

Ariel Pino

Ariel Pino, Occupational Safety & Health/Social Protection Specialist, ILO (Caribbean)

“At the ILO, we promote the Decent Work Agenda which means the creation of sustainable employment enterprises based on international standards, social dialogue and most importantly protecting people. This is social protection and the objective of the ILO is to achieve universal social protection and this is done hand-in-hand with workers, with employers, with government in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030.”

 

The concept focuses on ensuring equity—that people get access to benefits and services—promoting opportunity and boosting resiliency of a person when there’s a ‘rainy day.’ The World Bank has been working with Belize and Social Protection Specialist, Asha Williams says that the country’s information system is innovative in the region.

 

Asha Williams

Asha Williams, Social Protection Specialist, World Bank

“I think one of the key achievements of the ministry has really been what it is done to set up the BOOST conditional cash transfer and also the associated information systems that they developed with it. Developing information systems is something that I am going to speak about this week. A lot of countries implement multiple programmes and they struggle to coordinate the implementation of those programmes. And I think that Belize was able to do something really innovative when they developed their single information beneficiary system, which was very important lesson for Caribbean countries which also struggle with implementing these systems.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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