August 11, 2022 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): IGAD opened Regional Workshop on Extending Social Protection for Migrant Workers, today, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The objectives of the workshop are to the build the capacity of IGAD Member States and sub-regional partner’s on extending social protection for migrant workers and also to validate the baseline study report on extending social protection to migrant workers in the IGAD region. The workshop also create opportunity for Member States to discuss and exchange experiences on the portability of social protection benefits as stated in the IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons.
IGAD in collaboration with ILO is organized this regional workshop to validate the study and exchange experiences on extension of social protection to migrant workers in the region within the context of the IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and to identify key priority activities that needs to be considered in the Program for Implementation of Djibouti Declaration.
In his welcoming remark, Director for Planning, Partnership and Coordination, Mr. Anthony Awira indicated that ‘’IGAD has taken a bold step back in 2015 and developed a Regional Social Protection Strategy based on the review of experiences of Member States in promoting social protection programs that are designed to address vulnerability and poverty’’.
Free Movement of Persons Protocol, Declaration on Labour, Employment and labour Migration and Migration Policy Framework are among the instruments of IGAD to promote Social Protection’’ he added.
Mr. Dawit Moges, Secretary General, Confederation of IGAD Employers, disclosed that the young people who are working abroad and returning home and those who are still working in the destination countries need to have access to Social Protection benefits.
He mentioned that social protection is a human right that everyone has to get access to. He also underlined the importance of ratifying the conventions
Migrant workers face difficulties in accessing social protection because of legal barriers, nationality issues and residence requirements as well as limited periods of employment/contribution and administrative barriers, including challenges in terms of maintenance of their rights in the course of acquisition and lack of harmonization between social protection systems.
Mr. Wilson Ushere Owere, Horn of Africa Confederation of Trade UNION calls for the joint action to protect the young people of the IGAD region.
“There has to be a coordinated efforts between IGAD Member States to ensure Social Protection for migrants’ workers in countries of destination.” He added
He also underscored the importance of ensuring Social Protection at country of origin and destination.
Finally, he reminded about the critical need for ratifying and implementing the relevant conventions.
Experts drawn from government line ministries, Social Security Agency, trade unions and employers’ organizations, including, IGAD secretariat participate in the workshop.
Sudan, Chairs of IGAD, Mr. Salah Mohamed, underlined the importance of extending social protection to migrant workers, which will reduce the vulnerability of migrant workers.
He also mentioned the immediate need for the implementation of Regional Protocol and Declaration to ensure the right of citizens including migrants’ workers.
On his opening remarks, Mr. Dereje Wube, Deputy Director of Private Organizations’ Employees Social Security Agency of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, explained that Productive safety net is one of the social protection programs in Ethiopia supporting food insecured people.
“Ethiopia is one of the countries with limited coverage of social protection and the government is in the process of developing broad plans for all segments of the society.,” he stated.
During the opening ceremony, Mr. Ephrem Getnet ILO Chief Technical Advisor indicated that Social protection is a human right and it is one of the four indicators of decent work agenda.
“There is low coverage of Social Protection and migrants’ workers are usually excluded from the scheme.” He said.
He also reminded that the onset of COVID-19 thought the World about the need for Social Protection schemes to avoid the negative consequences of such pandemic. Furthermore, he underscored the importance of ratifying relevant ILO conventions and the implementation of IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons.
Coverage deficits have also been associated with the lack of a rights-based approach to social protection, weak governance and administration, and weak policy and institutional coordination. Considering the political, social and economic imperative for accelerating the extension of social protection in Africa, the region launched the Africa Regional Social Protection Strategy 2021-2025. The Strategy is aimed at extension of social protection coverage from current 17% to 40% by 2025 – with a strong focus on the informal and rural economy, efforts at formalization as well as enhancing fiscal space and sustainable financing for social protection.
The FMPT Project with generous financial support from the European Union funded this workshop and associated costs.
The workshop is expected to improve the knowledge of participants about international, regional and national instruments and policy frameworks on social protection in general and on extending social protection for migrant workers in particular, including, better understanding and knowledge of participants about policy options as well as challenges and opportunities for extending social protection to migrant workers and ensuring portability of social security benefits through the maintenance of rights in the course of acquisition in the IGAD region.
It is also expected to recommend short- and medium-term actions for extending social protection to migrant workers in the IGAD region including activities to be considered in the program for implementation of Djibouti Declaration. The findings and recommendations of the study report on Social Protection in IGAD region is validated with additional inputs, feedback and comments from the participants.
The project on free movement of persons and transhumance in the IGAD Region conducted a baseline study on extending social protection for migrant workers to identify challenges, opportunities and recommend policy options to extending social protection for migrant workers and ensure portability of social security benefits in close collaboration with IGAD secretariat. Among other things the study identified different levels of development of social security systems, insufficient technical and administrative capacities to manage social security agreements; lack of experience on portability of social security rights as well as low level of coverage represents major challenges to ensure access to and portability of social security benefits in the IGAD region. Despite the challenges, study also identified opportunities and provides recommendations for developing bilateral and multi-lateral social security agreements in IGAD Region.
The IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in Article 9 calls upon Member States to facilitate through IGAD or bilateral arrangements the portability of social security benefits to citizens of another Member State residing or established in the host Member State. Likewise, the IGAD Regional Guidelines on Rights based Bilateral Labour Agreements underlined the need for elaborating social protection provisions in drafting and negotiating bilateral labour agreements with countries of destination.