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Policy paper launched on Jordan’s social protection response during COVID-19

New study by UNICEF, JSF provides mapping of responses, highlights lessons learned

By JT - Oct 26,2020 - Last updated at Oct 26,2020

AMMAN — The Jordan Strategy Forum (JSF), in collaboration with UNICEF, has launched a policy paper on “Jordan’s National Social Protection Response during COVID-19” to map the social protection sector responses in Jordan during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The study sheds lights on challenges faced, as well as lessons learned and recommendations to continue reaching vulnerable groups most impacted by the crisis and enhance the sector response to the different pillars of the national system, including social assistance, social services and social protection, according to a JSF statement.  

Director of Research & Studies at Jordan Strategy Forum Ghassan Omet said: “With the aggravation of COVID-19 pandemic, many structural economic and social challenges, that the Jordanian economy was suffering from, have come to the fore, such as the dilemma of daily wage workers in the informal sector given the nature of their work. This situation calls for developing social protection mechanisms that contribute to mitigating the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable groups.”

UNICEF Jordan Representative Tanya Chapuisat said: “To support vulnerable groups most affected by the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including youth and women, continued efforts are needed to build on the national social protection response to date and strengthen the national system’s preparedness to react to shocks and potential future crises.”

The study has concluded that Jordan has been able to provide a rapid response due to significant policy updates that the social protection sector has witnessed in recent years, such as the expansion of the National Aid Fund, the launch of the Jordan National Social Protection Strategy (2019-2025), the operationalisation of the National Unified Registry, in addition to the development of a new national targeting system for social assistance based on multidimensional poverty indicators.

The study has also indicated the role played by  the Social Protection Committee formed by the government of Jordan at the beginning of the crisis, which has greatly contributed to coordinating the response of the various institutions and following up on the overall achievement in order to expand the coverage to a larger segment of families affected by the pandemic.

While Jordan has applied the largest number of social protection measures in terms of the number of interventions taken compared to other countries in the region, a number of challenges have emerged during the pandemic that require more attention and response given the protracted nature of the crisis and its social impact.

Jordan has implemented a series of measures during the pandemic covering different areas of social protection sector, these include:

— In terms of social assistance, a new emergency cash assistance programme was developed targeting more than 250,000 families (daily wage crisis) affected by the crisis. In addition, Jordan ensured provision of cash and in-kind assistance to existing beneficiaries of social assistance during the crisis. 

— The majority of Jordan’s efforts have been in the social insurance sector, including several programmes initiated by the Social Security Corporation, reaching an estimated number of more than 960,000 workers during the crisis. The response has also included the expansion of coverage that resulted in the formalisation of more than 14,500 establishments that were not previously registered under the umbrella of social security.

— Carrying out a series of measures to ensure the continuity of social services, which includes health, education and protection

The study concluded with providing recommendation lessons learned on the way forwarded to enhance the preparedness and responsiveness of the social protection system, including:  

— Creating a one-stop shop online portal for social protection programmes linked to the national unified registry.

— Introducing public work programmes for working-age poor, with the aim of enhancing economic participation and reducing dependence on social assistance.

— Continuing to encourage workers and enterprises to formalise and subscribe with the Social Security Corporation, simplifying procedures and clarifying the various programmes available to workers during the crisis. In addition, programmes introduced during the crisis shall take into account the liquidity position of the institution

— Improving the capacity of health sector to respond to shocks by adopting digital solutions and relying on them to provide services to patients. Furthermore, there is also a need to invest in primary healthcare services, mental health and psychosocial support, making them accessible during crises.

— With regard to the education sector, investing in the provision of technology for vulnerable households, planning remediation policies to recover lost learning as a result of the shift to distance learning. This is particularly important for girls who face more household chores during the curfew and children with disabilities whose education was fully halted for some time. In parallel, additional measures need to be taken to reduce school dropout and child labour.

— Working with shelters and non-governmental organisations engaged in caring for victims of domestic abuse and gender-based violence and strengthening their role as first-line response providers. In order to support this role and enhance the quality of services provided, a NGO accreditation and categorisation scheme should be considered.

Since onset the crisis, UNICEF has supported the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support children, youth and their parents, including education, child protection, WASH, health and nutrition and social protection interventions. 

UNICEF also supports the Jordanian government’s efforts to implement the Jordan National Social Protection Strategy 2019-2025, launched by the government of Jordan last year as an overarching umbrella for all social protection programmes targeting the most vulnerable groups at the national level. 

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