From 28 – 30 June 2010, Sarah Cook, Director of UNRISD, attended a conference to discuss the European Report on Development on the subject of Promoting Resilience through Social Protection in Sub-Saharan Africa in Dakar, Senegal. The conference was attended by scholars, policy makers and representatives of international organizations.
Sarah participated in the final roundtable entitled Scaling Up Social Protection in Sub-Saharan Africa and EU-Africa Partnership
. During the concluding discussions, she emphasized the need to formulate clear objectives and to focus on a social protection system prior to examining specific mechanisms to obtain those objectives.
While many excellent papers were presented throughout the conference, Sarah observed that much of the work was grounded in a framework that assumed functioning markets, with public policy interventions to address market failures. In light of the global economic crisis, she suggested the need for social policies that went beyond this residual agenda, echoing earlier speakers such as Jimi Adesina
who had highlighted the broader role of social policy in supporting economic production as well as redistributive and protective functions. In addition, she suggested the need for more attention to the structural factors which underpin poverty and vulnerability such as caste, gender, religion and ethnicity.
Responding to frequent discussions of both informal employment and informal social protection mechanisms during the workshop, she suggested the need for greater clarity and a more nuanced use of these terms. In contexts where the majority of the workforce is ‘informal’, and given the diversity of so-called informal social protection mechanisms, these categories need to be reconsidered.
The European Report on Development (ERD)
is an initiative promoted and financed by the European Commission together with seven EU Member States (Germany, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom). The first report – “Overcoming Fragility in Africa – Forging a New European Approach” – focused on the various dimensions of fragility, their implications for development policies, and the approaches needed to tackle the issue. The second report on social protection, to be published in 2010, deals with the issues of poverty, inequality and social protection, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.