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Social protection coverage remains severely limited in Africa, despite the existence of social protection policies. This was evident from the contributions made during the International Council on Social Welfare Africa Seminar that was held in the capital.

Africa currently boasts the lowest social protection coverage globally, with only 17% of the continent's total population benefiting from these programmes. This is in stark contrast to the global average of 47%.

This deficiency can be attributed to the prevalence of the informal economy and inadequate investment in social protection, which, on average, amounts to less than 5% of a country's GDP.

This lack of adequate social protection hampers the continent's ability to reap the manifold benefits such programmes offer, including poverty reduction, vulnerability mitigation, combating malnutrition, formalising informal labour, and eliminating forced and child labour, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. An action plan has been put in place, the Africa Regional Social Protection Strategy, spanning from 2021 to 2025.

"The Africa Regional Social Protection Strategy, 2021–2025, therefore addresses the root causes of coverage deficits on the continent. It also aims to support the adoption of social protection policies and strategies in African countries where there is no comprehensive social protection framework, design and reform social protection schemes, and improve operations," said Dr. Uitjiua Muinjangue, Namibia's Deputy Health Minister.

The seminar recognised the exacerbating effects of human-induced climate change and extreme weather events on people's livelihoods and overall well-being. These factors pose significant challenges to existing social protection and security systems.

In response, countries have been urged to fortify their social protection systems to enhance preparedness for unforeseen future events and to bolster resilience.

The seminar served as a platform for discussions on a wide range of social welfare challenges facing Africa and explored potential remedial actions to address these pressing concerns.

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Celma Ndhikwa