Defined as public and private interventions that address vulnerabilities associated with being or becoming poor, social protection remains key to realization of transformative growth in Uganda.

In this regard, the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) held a consultative meeting at its conference hall on October 20th, 2016, to share a synthesis of the performance of social protection programmes regionally and in Sub Saharan African Countries and specifically provide updates on social protection programme activities in Uganda.

The meeting was organized inline with the INCLUDE Platform on National Level Activities (NLA), whose aim is increasing evidence based policymaking in the area of social protection.

In a presentation titled “A pathway to social protection development in Uganda: A review of evidence, policies and stakeholders by EPRC’s Madina Guloba, Elizabeth Birabwa and Sarah Ssewanyana, children aged 5-15 are 40 percent vulnerable to abuses such as child labour.

Other vulnerable groups according to the 2012-2013 Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBoS) data include; the elderly persons- 4.6 percent, oprhans-11 percent, persons with disabilities-7 percent, widows-10 percent and unemployed youth-9.4 percent.

While presenting draft findings on building the economic case for investments in social protection in Uganda, Susan Kavuma from Makerere University brought forth justification for the need to expand social protection in view of increasing vulnerabilities.

She cited 2014 UBoS National Household Survey (NHS) findings, which indicated that 43 percent of the non-poor are vulnerable, and that out of the 1.3 million older persons, only 7 percent have access to formal pension.

Kavuma suggested need for government to build on existing evidence for social protection to reduce vulnerability and enhance productivity for building cross-sectoral partnerships, pointing out that growing political will for social protection is not matched with sufficient funding.

In addition, participants mapped out the actors involved in social protection agenda in Uganda, existing or missing structures and institutional roles as a means of identifying the most influential stakeholders that should be targeted to receive and use the policy messages arising from the evidence.

Partakers at the meeting generally agreed that Uganda needed to prioritize social protection. They cited government bodies such as: Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development; Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development; Ministry of Local Government; development partners such as: UNICEF and USAID and the civil society among others, as major actors in driving the social protection agenda in Uganda.

On a sad note, it was observed that actions of the above actors have largely not been enough in addressing social protection issues. Members attributed this fact to distractors like politicians, technocrats, and lack of harmonization of laws. However much optimism continues to prevail and thus positive rates of returns on social protection investments are possible in a long run.