Social protection is a fundamental right recognised in the Nepalese Constitution of 2015 (Article 43) and a priority for the Government of Nepal. Several pieces of legislation enacted in recent years pave the way to the operationalisation of health insurance, social insurance and social assistance schemes in the country. Furthermore, the National Planning Commission has drafted an Integrated National Framework on Social Protection ― which is currently tabled in the Parliament for adoption ― aiming to make the national social protection system inclusive, flexible, and effective and to ensure access to all citizens.
The Government of Nepal operates a range of social protection programmes consisting of employment-related schemes, cash and in-kind social assistance and labour market programmes. According to the National Integrated Social Protection Framework, different ministries and public institutions implement 16 types of programs and 76 schemes. Based on the Red Book of the Ministry of Finance that details the budget allocations in 2018/19, social protection expenditure amounted to approximately 3.9% of the GDP.
The EC-INTPA Project on Enhancing Social Protection System: Towards Investments for Results in Nepal aims to support the Government of Nepal in improving social protection policies, financing strategies, coordination mechanisms, and implementation and monitoring systems, to increase coverage to the excluded, including persons with disabilities, workers in the informal economy and people living in disaster-prone areas.
Key results achieved in 2019-22
Despite the continuous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Project has continued the timely implementation of its activities and achieved substantial results to continue advancing social protection in Nepal, thanks to the development of successful partnerships and the mobilisation of key stakeholders.
Some of the project achievements include:
- Implementation of critical interventions related to public finance management (PFM) in line with the Government of Nepal’s priority in strengthening the framework to improve overall governance, optimise outputs from public resources, and ensure inclusive, broad-based and sustainable development.
- Series of studies carried out to review Nepal’s existing social protection system, understand its gaps and challenges, and identify potential strategies to extend the coverage, improve the adequacy of schemes and secure sustainable financing. The project is providing support in conducting an actuarial valuation of the existing social security schemes to inform the policy dialogue to address some of the concerns raised by certain sectors of the economy and to ensure the financial sustainability of the schemes.
- Four policy briefs on education, health, revenue mobilisation and expenditure allocations that provide a summary of expenditures proposed in the most recent budget and examine trends through time, allocations to different levels of governments, major expenditure headings, and the functioning allocation of the budget, particularly from both the equity and gender lenses.
- Technical support to the Government of Nepal in the expansion of contribution-based social security. The Project supported technical interventions related to social protection coverage for informal economy workers, including the design, the implementation strategy and the actuarial valuation/costing of the schemes. The Project also supported the government in addressing the slow take-up in contributory social security and resistance to enrolment amongst those in the formal sector. At the end of 2021, the number of workers registered in the Social Security Fund reached 305,103 and more than doubled compared to the baseline of 147,643 in 2019.
- Advancing the agenda on shock-responsive social protection (SRSP). As a result of continuous advocacy, learning and sharing, the Government of Nepal has initiated the development of a national shock-responsive social protection/ cash policy. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) has formed a technical committee for drafting the SRSP policy. The Project also enabled the local government to enhance preparedness on shock-responsive social protection and, more specifically, on potential flood response by identifying households at high risk of flooding and linking them with financial institutions.
- Various communication materials were developed, disseminated, and aired to help improve the Social Security Allowance (SSA) delivery effectiveness and address existing challenges. In addition, 283 volunteers are being mobilised for awareness-raising on child grant and birth registration, while FM radio reached about 40,000 people.
- Expansion of evidence base for developing a robust social protection system through supporting targeted research on social protection programmes. Activities included the development of various analytical documents such as the Analytical Report on Accountability Mechanism, the review of the Beneficiary Registration System for Social Security Allowance (SSA) in Nepal, and an assessment on how social protection systems can be reviewed and strengthened to fulfil their role as economic and social stabilizers during crises recovery, and as integral elements of economic growth.
- Delivery of several capacity development activities at the federal and provincial levels to enhance the stakeholders’ capacity to administer and deliver social protection programmes. Learning topics included strengthening monitoring and accountability of programmes, training on emergency cash, registrations systems, shock-responsive social protection, fundamental concepts of social protection and contributory systems, good governance, improved delivery systems and administrative solutions for coverage extension.
- Meaningful engagement with social partners and Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in the dialogue around social protection. In 2021, the project supported training on social protection promotion to 69 CSOs and trade union leaders, including adaptive and shock-responsiveness schemes. Over 70 policymakers met more than 700 CSOs members who advocated through 44 policy documents, position papers and research for better social protection and public finance management. Likewise, the project engaged with employers and workers’ associations through consultations and training on expanding of contribution-based social security. Through traditional and social media, awareness campaigns informed nearly 250,000 citizens about social protection schemes with a rights-based approach.
- Promotion of tripartite consultations to discuss the challenges in the participation of workers and employers in social security, supporting the policy dialogue around private sector requests, and ensuring the actuarial soundness of the schemes.
- Resources on the Case for Enhancing Investment in Children in Nepal (Nov 2020)
- Technical report on Social Protection Responses to COVID-19 in Nepal (2021)
- Research brief on Challenges and Opportunities around Contribution-based Social Security (Oct 2021)
- Capacity building report on Social Security Fund Nepal: A Capacity Needs Assessment and Learning Plan (April 2021)
- Technical report on Strengthening Social Protection Management Information Systems (MIS): Findings from a Systems Review of the Social Security Fund, Nepal (Dec 2021)
- Analytical report on Social Budget Briefs (September 2021)
- Research on the Status of Social Protection in two local municipalities: Helambu Rural Municipality in Bagmati Province, and Kalaiya Sub-Metropolitan City in Province 2
- Social Protection Debate on National Television in July-Set 2021 (with captions available in English):
In Nepal, the Project is being jointly implemented by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and WSM on behalf of the Global Coalition on Social Protection Floors. Key government counterparts include the Ministry of Labour, Employment, and Social Security, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Social Security Fund (SSF) at the Federal Level, the Ministry of Social Development at the Provincial Level, and Municipal Government at the Local Level. The Project will work closely with Province 2 and the Karnali Province.
Suravi Bhandary, ILO, National Project Coordinator – email@example.com
Andre Felipe Bongestabs, ILO – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thakur Dhakal, UNICEF, Social Policy Specialist – email@example.com
Bruno Deceukelier, WSM, Asia Coordinator – firstname.lastname@example.org
Debate about social protection policy and the role of civil society (July 2021)
Right to social security: The indigent citizens, incapacitated and helpless citizens, helpless single women, citizens with disabilities, children, citizens who cannot take care themselves and citizens belonging to the tribes on the verge of extinction shall have the right to social security, in accordance with law.