The value of the CoP in designing national policies in Uganda
The Community of Practice (CoP) of Cash Transfers in Africa has proven to be a great tool to share knowledge and to help countries designing their National Social Protection policies over the years.
When interviewed, Titus Ouma, Senior Programme Officer – Expanding Social Protection (ESP) Programme at the Ministry of Gender Labour And Social Development in Uganda, and CoP Steering Committee member, stated how important the lessons learned from other members of the Cop were in the design process of Uganda National Social Protection (NSP) Policy, approved by the cabinet in 2015.
Previous experiences of other African countries, Kenya in particular, but also Malawi and Zambia, influenced the development of the NSP Policy currently used to implement social programs in Uganda.
Looking at the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) pilot social cash transfer scheme of the government of Uganda’s Expanding Social Protection Programme (ESPP), “We needed to know how to target the beneficiaries, how to verify and register them, as well as managing payments and handling grievance and complaints, so the literature available within the CoP was useful to assist us as a country to design the program of social protection in Uganda and deliver it to the beneficiaries” said Ouma.
The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need to reach the beneficiaries in the communities through digital platforms and it forced the government to review the implementation approach to accommodate Covid protocols. In this regard the CoP developed guidelines on how to handle payments during Covid-19. In Uganda, according to Ouma, they were used to give out the payments in specific gathering points, perfect location for the spread of the virus, through a long process of registration of the beneficiaries. Thanks to the CoP guidelines the Government of Uganda put in place a mechanism to enable to keep social distance, also cutting some of the processes short, approving the name of beneficiaries in the digital systems to boost payments access.
“Thanks to my involvement in the CoP I was able to appreciate the importance of Singles Registries in terms of supporting successful Social Protection programs,” Ouma continued “Single Registries are the main instruments to identify low income families and this helps include them into the social programs.” In Uganda, the Single Registry is used to target all categories of vulnerable people who can be supported by the SAGE program.