Friday, 18 July 2014

Sharing ideas and learning lessons about social protection

Last week the Centre for Social Protection (CSP) welcomed a group of enthusiastic and committed participants to the CSP short course ‘Social Protection: Policies, Programmes and Evidence’. After having developed and run multiple courses and trainings in recent years for professionals in international organisations such as UNICEF and FAO, donors including DFID and governments in Rwanda, Ethiopia and Nepal, this is the first short course that was open for all applications.

We shared an exciting and stimulating four days together. With a group of participants bringing together experiences from 17 different organisations spanning 23 countries across the globe, this was very much a two-way learning and sharing opportunity. Sessions covered topics ranging from conceptual frameworks and institutional approaches to targeting and delivery of social protection and the creation and assessment of evidence. Training methods included presentations, group exercises and ‘buzz-group’ discussions.

A particularly valuable element of the course was the ‘Social Protection Marketplace’. A self-selected group of participants occupied ‘stalls’ that served as a platform for sharing experiences and questions that they are grappling with in their work on social protection and receiving feedback on those. We discussed the challenges of monitoring and evaluating a cash transfer programme in the extremely volatile and rapidly changing situation in Iraq where people are constantly ‘on the move’. We learned about efforts to make the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia more ‘climate smart’ and debated what this actually means and how such additional goals and components can be added on to a well-established social protection programme. We were also presented with the Egypt dilemma: there is political appetite for and commitment to promoting social justice but how can social protection play a role in a context of stringent fiscal constraints?

The four days of intensive interaction in Brighton provided participants with a stronger knowledge base about social protection and allowed for reflections about current practices in social protection, either in their own current work or future initiatives. Participants told us that the course “was extremely rewarding and very informative” and that they “will definitely recommend this to other colleagues”.

Following our own positive experiences and the participant feedback, we look forward to offering this course again next year. So spread the word and watch this space: join us in July 2015!

By Keetie Roelen, IDS Research Fellow