In Afghanistan, poverty and vulnerability to poverty are persistent and widespread. Between 2007-2008 and 2011-2012 the poverty rate remained unchanged (36 per cent). Recurrent natural disasters have caused loss of life and, in 2013, disrupted the lives and livelihoods of approximately 235,000 people. Families remain extremely vulnerable to flooding and drought that devastate agriculture, pushing them further into poverty. The poorest families experience the highest levels of deprivations. A lack of adequate social protection systems exposes families to risks, limiting their ability to cope with recurrent shocks.
Within a renewed emphasis on poverty reduction coinciding with the need for coming up with a new strategy, MoLSAMD has requested UNICEF to support them with a Technical Adviser (TA). This TA will be placed with the ministry and will help it deliver on its core mandate of developing, policies, strategies and plans for protection and ensuring the welfare and development of the poor and vulnerable with especial emphasis on women and children.
The Afghanistan Compact, a document which lays down the broad development strategy for Afghanistan has identified three critical and interdependent areas of activity (Pillars):
1) Security 2) Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights 3) Economic and Social Development.
As such, the work and mandate of the Ministry is very crucial particularly for contributing in achieving the third critical goal of the Afghanistan Compact. To fulfill its Mission, the MoLSAMD has further divided into four Programs.
1) Labor Welfare & Skill Development Program; 2) Program for the Welfare of the Families of Martyrs & Disabled; 3) Social Welfare Program; 4) Administration & Finance Capacity Development Program
Afghanistan is a poor country with more than 36% of the people living below the poverty line (BPL). This section of the population is in need of sustained help for a number of years to better their living condition. MoLSAMD has its task cut out and needs to restructure itself and enhance its capabilities thereby making it more effective and efficient to deliver the desired services to the various target groups.
As all other Afghan ministries, the MOLSAMD is centrally organized. The Ministry’s headquarters is situated in Kabul. However, MOLSAMD has already established its provincial departments in all 34 provinces, as well as eleven Provincial Employment Services Centers. Around 8000 civil servants currently work for the Ministry at the national and sub-national level. The legislative framework for the MOLSAMD is based on the Executive Order of the President and on decisions of the Council of Ministers. Social policies and interventions are based on the Law on Rights and Privileges of Martyrs’ Families and the Disabled.
Apart from MOLSAMD, several other ministries and government agencies play an important role in the area of social protection. The most important are: Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MoA), Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Ministry of Women Affairs (MoWA, and Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).
Within a national prioritization effort, the following are some of the targets the Ministry has set itself for in the coming few years:
· To develop and advocate for policies related to labour affairs.
· To build a fiscally affordable social protection system.
· To build a fiscally sustainable and efficient pension system.
· To enhance social inclusion of the marginalized groups like the people with disabilities; their families of Martyrs; women headed households, Kuchis, and minorities.
· To get rid of child labor in Afghanistan.
· To decrease inequality and help the poor climb out of poverty.
To examine the existing Social Safety Net and prepare a new social protection policy.
Reports directly to Deputy Minister, Labour, MoLSAMD. The following points are to be noted:
a) There will be no automatic renewal of contracts. The extension of the contracts would need to be based on a joint agreement between MoLSAMD and UNICEF. If the personnel receive no notification of renewal, it should be considered that the contract is not to be renewed;
b) There will be no automatic transfer to the next step of the grade the personnel is placed on upon renewal of contract. The decision to provide the next step will be based on a joint performance evaluation by MoLSAMD and UNICEF;
c) UNICEF as a UN agency will not be responsible for any tax liability and it is the responsibility of the relevant staff member to comply with all local taxation requirements including payment of income tax etc. This should be clearly noted in the contract between the staff member and MoLSAMD;