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Defined by World Bank as assistance to reduce vulnerability through better risk management, social protection for vulnerable persons, households, or communities is today a key undertaking amongst most governments in the developing world.

In this regard, a Senior Research Fellow with Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), Madina Guloba has said framing social protection along natural risks would bring about sustained benefits for the disadvantaged.

Madina shared her thoughts in a presentation on gender disparities in social protection in Uganda at a meeting organized by Akina Mama Wa Africa in Kampala on 21, February 2019.

“Frame social protection along natural risks like droughts, floods and mudslides,” she said.

SP Protea Madina 21 Feb 2019

Other risks mentioned are economic risks of being poor and unemployed, social risks which may result from cultural norms around individuals, for example barring women from undertaking certain forms of work and demographic risks where those who reach retirement no longer have a sustainable source of income.

Due to lack of social protection mechanisms the vulnerable communities resort to selling assets like land and livestock incase calamities like drought hit.

The above according to Madina call for government intervention through elderly support programmes and youth livelihood programmes. The latter also helps in addressing political risks and crime since potential perpetrators are taken up with productive ventures.

Madina also expressed worry that women are more likely to be left out of social protection programmes due to their nature of employment.

She observed that high participation in unpaid care work, low awareness, illiteracy, low self-esteem and cultural norms that support a patriarchal society deny the informal economy benefits of social protection.

Gender wise, the young child bearing women are considered a risk by most private sector employers, who feel this, is loss of revenue due to reduced productivity and days spent on maternity leave.

In Uganda, informal workers make up over 90 per cent of the labour force. Women constitute a reasonably higher portion of informal sector workers, with no standard labour legislation, low technology absorption and high rates of tax evasion. These and more deter government protection.

Madina says the informal sector may become attractive mainly due to failure to expand the formal job market in light of rising unemployment. Under such circumstances, a condition of little or no access to any form of social protection becomes inevitable.

She says that having social protection initiatives, coupled with improved targeting, implementation and enforcement of the laws and policies in place is a means of Uganda attaining 12 (1,2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16) of the 17 SDGs.