New ILO - Belgium programme

Supporting Burkina Faso and Senegal to promote social protection

The Government of Belgium and the International Labour Organization will support the strengthening and extension of national social protection systems in Burkina Faso and Senegal to increase coverage of informal economy workers and their families, facilitate their access to health care and enable them to face the challenges of tomorrow.

Article | 16 December 2020
Geneva (ILO News) - A new ILO-Belgium programme will focus on extending social protection to workers in the informal economy in Burkina Faso and Senegal. Particular emphasis will be placed on health coverage, which has been identified as a priority in both countries. 
Collaboration with regional organizations such as the Inter-African Conference on Social Security (CIPRES) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) will enable the project to promote social protection policies beyond these two countries in West Africa.

With a fund of €2 million over 18 months, the project will support ongoing efforts of the social security agencies in both countries. Pilot initiatives that provide health coverage for people working in the informal economy will be at the heart of the project. Specific emphasis will be placed on the development of information management systems as well as on communication, including targeted awareness campaigns. A regional and global component will allow both mutual learning between the two countries and knowledge sharing with other countries in West Africa. The activities will be implemented in close collaboration with other programmes in both countries, including interventions funded by the European Union and France.

Strengthening social protection for workers in the informal economy is at the heart of Belgium's development cooperation policy. In outlining her priorities to the Belgian House of Representatives, Minister for Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir pointed out that "more than 60% of workers worldwide work in the informal sector. Without social protection, these people are extremely vulnerable to shocks such as COVID-19. This is why Belgium continues to support the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its efforts to facilitate the transition to the formal economy for as many people as possible. In this respect, social dialogue is essential. »

This vulnerability is even more pronounced in developing countries. National and regional employment surveys conducted in 2015 identified more than 90% of workers in Burkina Faso and Senegal as vulnerable workers. In Senegal, only 20% of the population is covered by at least one social protection scheme, while in Burkina Faso this rate is only 7.5%. In Senegal, the social security system is still tied to the labour market. A broad social dialogue led to the design of a simplified social security scheme for the informal economy, the Simplified Scheme for Small Taxpayers (RSPC), under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour. The health branch of the RSPC is ready to be piloted. In Burkina Faso, the universal health insurance scheme, adopted in 2015, is in the process of being operationalized, following the establishment of the National Universal Health Insurance Fund (CNAMU) in 2018 and the National Orientation Council for the Universal Health Insurance Scheme (CNO-RAMU) in 2020, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. The CNAMU is currently deploying a non-contributory mechanism for the care of indigents and has drawn up a plan for the operationalisation of health insurance for households in the formal and informal sectors.

The ILO-Belgium partnership will support governments and social partners in implementing these policies. "We are delighted to cooperate with Belgium, a long-standing partner of the ILO in social protection and social dialogue, in the implementation of the ILO's flagship programme on social protection floors for all. This project will improve social protection for informal economy workers and their families in Burkina Faso and Senegal. It will also serve as an example to inspire other countries in the West African region and will reduce the population without social protection coverage (estimated at more than 80 per cent of the African population), while building sustainable institutions. "highlighted Shahra Razavi, Director of the Social Protection Department at ILO Headquarters.

In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, the security situation in the Sahel and the impact of climate change in the Sahel region, it is now more important than ever to develop quality social protection and health care systems that are accessible to the entire population and sensitive to shocks. Extending social protection to workers in the informal economy is a key element in ensuring the financing of the systems and working towards their sustainability and resilience.

The project will start on 1 December 2020 for a period of 18 months.

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