Speech by Beatrice Mugambe, Executive Director for development research and training (DRT), at the opening of the regional conference on "Financing social protection in East and Central Africa: Learning from Experience", held at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort in Entebbe, Uganda, on 22 November 2013.

It is a great pleasure and honour to welcome you all at Lake Victoria Serena Resort in Entebbe, Uganda. In a special way, I welcome guests from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Mauritius, South Africa and Malawi.

This is the regional conference on “Financing Social Protection in East and Central Africa: Learning from Experience”.

Purpose of the conference

We are gathered here to stimulate discussion and learning about various options of financing of social protection programmes, particularly in low income countries, especially in Eastern and Central Africa.

We are keen to hear about innovative ways of mobilising resources and effective ways of using them to achieve social protection objectives in our countries. I know that these objectives rotate around eradication of extreme and chronic poverty, vulnerability, income inequality and social exclusion.

The work of EPRC and DRT is meant to support decision-making processes, give evidence-based analysis, information and data to guide decision makers and donor agencies, government, private sector and civil society among other stakeholders.

Financing of social protection programmes has featured in various formal and informal meetings, low income countries including Uganda and others that are represented in this meeting.

In many of these countries, Governments have not reached a consensus on committing to finance social protection programs due to various reasons. Yet others have already designed and implemented innovative interventions. More positively also, the debate is increasingly involving policy makers, development partners, civil society, media and ordinary citizens.

The debate has also generated consensus that social protection interventions are among key strategies that will contribute to significant changes in the lives of majority of people that are currently unable to find employment, feed and send children to school, find quality public health care and deal with weather-related risks that affect their main source of livelihood. On the other hand, many of our countries are aspiring to become middle income and First World in the next 3-4 decades.

I am hopeful that the discussions that will happen today will set us in motion to answer some of the questions that remain unanswered in policy debates.

The conference has over 10 interactive sessions, appropriately chosen to help focus our discussion to those policy issues that resonate to our country needs at this point in time. Please use every opportunity to share your country’ experiences, lessons, challenges and plans. I am delighted that in this meeting, we will also be able to launch our 2nd chronic poverty report.

I am hopeful that all of us find the meeting worth our attendance. Please also find time to see that Uganda beautiful places within and outside Entebbe.

Thank you.

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