The state of social protection for agrifood systems workers in five countries of West Africa is being studied by FAO and IPC-IG

Photo: E Diop/Unsplash

The IPC-IG and FAO are conducting a series of interviews with representatives of social protection and social assistance programmes in Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal. The interviews are part of the project on “The state of social protection for agri-food systems workers in West Africa”, which aims to identify the barriers faced by workers in agri-food systems to participate in social protection schemes, as well as highlight the good practices adopted in the region. To this end, IPC-IG researchers have been conducting interviews with key informants of these countries’ social protection schemes and programmes.

To alleviate acute poverty and food insecurity, in 2013 the Government of Mali instituted the Jigisemejiri programme, funded by the World Bank. Today, Jigisemejiri is the country's only government-funded and owned programme that provides cash transfers. It is currently receiving funds to monitor emergency cash transfers and establish a Unified Social Registry (RSU). 

“We were also able to receive very recently, because of COVID-19, a large government funding for the monitoring of emergency cash transfers, and we are almost halfway through this never-seen-before-seen operation in Mali. First, because of its scale, of the order of 100 billion CFA francs, and because of the groups that it is targeting”, explained one of the programme’s representatives.

IPC-IG researchers also interviewed a representative of the Government of Senegal to gather information about the Programme National de Bourses de Sécurité Familiale (PNBSF), a conditional cash transfer, regarding education, health, and civil status of beneficiaries. The programme aims to ensure a minimum level of well-being for individuals and households who are in a situation of poverty or vulnerability by establishing three main components: (i) injection of cash through monetary transfers; (ii) changing behaviours in education, health, and civil status; (iii) setting up income-generating activities. 

“We aim to improve and enrol children in school, encourage families to vaccinate children under 5 and encourage the civil registration of families benefiting from the program. The household allowance manager is the mother and there is one payment operator who is responsible for delivering transfers across the 14 regions of Senegal”, highlighted a government representative. 

In Cape Verde, old-age pension coverage is relatively high compared with the region. A representative of the National Centre of Social Benefits highlighted that the social pension (a non-contributory scheme for poorer households) has historically aimed at ensuring incomes for rural workers in case of droughts and lowered yields. It has grown into a broader social pension programme, which currently allows for vulnerable older persons to receive an old-age pension without having contributed during their economically active years. As such, "the majority of our pensioners are from the rural areas. […] The agricultural area is the base of the social pension”  

It is also crucial to provide linkages with the social insurance pension mechanism (a contributory system). One of the main goals of the National Institute of Social Security is the expansion of contributory old-age pensions to rural areas. These synergies are necessary to ensure broader coverage and the inclusion of agrifood workers into the social protection system.

A representative of Cote d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Employment and Social Protection discussed the expansion of the country’s Universal Health Coverage (CMU) and National Social Security Fund (CNPS) programmes. The CMU is a contributory programme that charges USD1,69 per person (except poor people) per month to cover medical expenses in case of illness. To put this programme in place and expand social protection to rural workers, the government is adopting a multi-Ministry approach. 

“This is the first time that a project has brought together all the actors and created a certain synergy for the same objective. The objective for us is to provide care, to ensure health and prepare for retirement and then to allow individuals to have income to manage the hazards of life which are not taken into account by the organisations”, clarified the representative of the country’s Ministry of Employment and Social Protection.

An interview with a representative of Ghana is forthcoming. 

A Research Report featuring the findings of this study is expected by the end of the year.  

** A confidentiality agreement was established with the sources interviewed. Therefore, their names will not be disclosed.

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