Baghdad, 27 January 2021 – Iraq’s recovery from COVID-19 should be seen as an opportunity to strengthen the country’s social protection system to support the most vulnerable, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Impact of COVID-19 on Social Protection in Iraq examines how Iraq has used its current social protection infrastructure to address the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on poor and vulnerable communities. It considers how these programmes have addressed the needs of the most vulnerable in the past, and whether they would be supporting Iraq’s recovery challenges of the country’s current twin crises: the pandemic and declining oil revenue, in the 18-24 months ahead.
The report makes key policy recommendations to the Government of Iraq, the United Nations system and development partners to strengthen Iraq’s social protection system, ensuring the poorest and most vulnerable populations are central to the socio-economic recovery from the pandemic, while leaving no one behind.
“Almost one year after the onset of COVID-19, Iraq’s vulnerable communities – including women, youth, internally displaced, the elderly – continue to be disproportionately affected, not just by the health implications of the pandemic but more so by its socio-economic repercussions,” says Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.
“Iraq’s current social protection framework is not sufficiently set up to proactively target all the country’s vulnerable groups, which means government assistance and subsidies are not always reaching those who need it most. This is a concerning, particularly as we move towards the global rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The country’s economic crisis should be seen as an opportunity to rebuild a more resilient, shock-responsive and agile social protection system – one that withstands future crises, and focuses specifically on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable communities to build forward better from the pandemic. UNDP and its partners are ready to support the Government of Iraq to bring this critical task to fruition,” adds Ms Ali Ahmad.
Impact of COVID-19 on Social Protection in Iraq is the fourth in a series released by UNDP on the impact of COVID-19 in Iraq. The first paper looked at effects on fragility, the second examined the macroeconomic consequences, while the third reviewed the impact on social cohesion.
Additional thematic policy papers will be released in the coming months focusing on the implications of the pandemic on environmental sustainability and the socioeconomic fallout on vulnerable households. UNDP Iraq is grateful to ILO for its partnership and important contributions to The Impact of COVID-19 on Social Protection in Iraq. Read the paper here.
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