State sponsored social security is important for addressing the needs of a country’s vulnerable groups. Redistributive social security systems contribute to a reduced poverty level. The importance of social security is outlined in Vision 2021 and Bangladesh has a strong track record of working on diverse areas of social security, ranging from allowances for old age, widows, destitute and deserted women, lactating mothers, freedom fighters, orphans and school stipends to cash and food for work. The government is currently engaged in as many as 118 different programmes.
Bangladesh is, in many ways, ahead of the curve; the triple challenges of poverty, vulnerability and exclusion have informed policy thinking as the programme portfolio has been growing. However, with rapid urbanisation, growing economic pressure, demand outstripping supply, coupled with emerging effects of climate change, the existing social safety net portfolio presents significant opportunities for consolidation and rationalization around key vulnerabilities.
At a 2011 Dhaka Social Protection Conference, the Government of Bangladesh announced a commitment to develop the country’s first National Social Security Strategy. On request from the Planning Ministry’s General Economics Division (GED), UNDP has provided financial and technical assistance in formulating the strategy and securing stakeholder participation in a series of consultations.
The core of the strategy is programme consolidation along life cycle risks, with programmes for children, working age people – including specific focus on youth and vulnerable women – the elderly, and persons with disabilities. The life cycle approach also addresses current gaps in coverage of early childhood needs.
Effective targeting is one of the key challenges of delivery success and is a concern addressed by the strategy. A basic objective for the next five years will be to target the elimination of extreme poverty. However, the strategy has the vision of Bangladesh moving towards a rights-based approach in line with provisions of the country’s Constitution. This will also support inclusive growth and reduce
poverty, inequality and deprivation to levels required for Bangladesh to attain Middle Income Country status by 2021. It is critical to provide opportunities for poor and vulnerable people to contribute to and benefit from economic growth, and to provide protection to mediate new vulnerabilities resulting from the necessary economic transformation. Social security programmes have a proven effect of being instrumental in realizing development goals.
The strategy puts emphasis on reaching out to a range of socially excluded population groups that face various kinds of social discrimination. The Government will ensure that these groups have similar access as the rest of the population to all social security programmes and to all publicly provided basic services.
The Social Security Policy Support (SSPS) Programme will support the Government to roll out the National Social Security Strategy. The programme has two components: governance of social security and strengthening of delivery systems.
Governance of the Social Security System, with the purpose of ensuring better governance through coordination, M&E and reporting functions and to strengthen Government research and analysis capacities in order to build a more effective evidence base for effective policy development.
- The Central Monitoring Committee of the Cabinet Division charged with development and oversight of the social security programmes and inter-sectoral linkages
- Broad ownership across ministries, the Parliament, civil society, NGOs, academia and think tanks
- Capacity building of key Government stakeholders
- A policy research facility on social security to carry out studies and facilitate national policy dialogues on the basis of research reports
- An Innovation and Research Challenge Fund to enable piloting of new technologies and approaches
Summary of Current Social Security Programmes
- Bangladesh’s current social security system is duplicative and complex; 25 ministries are engaged in implementation of 118 programmes.
- Social security accounts for 14.7% of government expenditure, which is equivalent to 2.44% of GDP.
- Because of proliferation, the budget for most programmes is small and the average benefit per individual is low.
- The social security system needs to be restructured to address and anticipate changing economic and social dynamics.
- While the coverage of programmes has increased, HIES 2010 shows a coverage of only 24.5 percent of the poor.
- Current estimates suggest that close to 20 million people are still living in extreme poverty (GED, BBS).
- Timeframe: 2014-2017
- Project Aim: To assist the government in developing a fully functional social security system, which supports and facilitates best practice delivery models
- Implementing Partners: General Economics Division (GED) and Cabinet Division
- Project cost: USD 7 million
- DFID Contribution: USD 4.2 million
- UNDP Contribution: USD 1.5 million
Systems Strengthening, with the purpose of developing a modern social security infrastructure capable of supporting a nationally integrated delivery system for reliable and transparent social transfers.
- Field M&E/MIS for coordination and local compliance
- Platforms of direct electronic Government to Person (G2P) payments
- Soft and hardware for MIS database and electronic payment platforms
- Using M&E database platform allied with IT support to deliver other services such as health
- Training of officials to use M&E systems and electronic payment platforms
- Obtaining support from civil society organisations to help implement grievance systems and rights protected mechanisms
Poor families are less vulnerable to external shocks
A modern and fit for purpose social security system is developed
Better governance of social security
Stronger social security systems
Field testing by pilot schemes
Programme, Room 1207, 11th Floor, Government Transport Pool Building, Secretariat Link Road, Ramna, Dhaka.
SSPS Programme, Room 4, Block 13, General Economics Division, Planning Commission, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Agargaon, Dhaka.