Mukesh Lath is an Advisor for Save the Children, and he is working in the area of Social Protection & Child Rights Governance. He has been participating in ICDP training in India and upon his recommendation a new ICDP initiative started in Hargeisa, Somaliland. 

The first ICDP training workshop took place during the first week of July, 2017, and the second in August 2017; both were conducted by ICDP trainer Atnaf Kebreab. The 15 participants included staff from Save the Children and their partners (HAVYOCO) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. All became actively involved and contributed ideas about how ICDP could fit in their own culture and context.  At the end of the training the participants commented that ICDP is relevant for their work and that they are eager to run ICDP groups for parents in the community.

Project's background information:

Of an estimated 767 million people living in extreme income-poverty, fully one-half (50.2%) are children.  Income-poverty at the household level underpins and reinforces childhood deprivations and poor outcomes across Save the Children’s Breakthroughs and the SDGs. Children born in the lowest household wealth quintile in developing countries are over twice as likely to die as their counterparts in the top quintile.  Their rates of malnutrition are about 2.5 times higher. 

In Somaliland, about 60% of the population is considered to be below the poverty line. Poverty is mainly caused by lack of productive assets, recurrent shocks, high unemployment rates and continued displacement. Wacqooyi Galbeed, the region that houses Hargeisa district is gradually recovering from a prolonged drought whose impacts are projected to last through the end of 2016. Unemployment is soaring at 80% causing major social and economic dislocation of young people and leading to secondary displacement among IDPs with young people leaving the country to search for opportunities in Europe. On average, 60% of IDPs have a very low level of productive asset ownership (0-2). Low asset base indicates reduced income generation and coping capacity, thus making people highly vulnerable to shocks and stresses.

Low household incomes have a direct negative impact in the way households invest in their children. Low purchasing power among these poor households means they are either unable or face difficulties accessing basic services such as health, food, education and clothing among others. Children from these households are further exposed to a wide range of protection risks such as child labour and family separation as street children.

According to SCI assessments, monthly household incomes in Hargeisa IDPs averages USD 38. Further, the minimum cost of living (for food and non-food needs) in Hargeisa is USD 143. This means monthly household incomes can only purchase 26% of the monthly household needs. In addition, household debt averages USD 78.3, which is double the monthly income. A combination of low levels of incomes, high cost of living and high household debts means reduced purchasing power of the household thus reduced ability of the household to invest in their children. 

There is a strong body of evidence that social protection transfers can positively impact the pathways and drivers for achieving breakthroughs for children, particularly those for the survival and healthy growth of all children and for child learning through good quality basic education. Evidence from many contexts consistently shows that social protection transfers to poor households can improve access to and use of education and health services, food intake, dietary diversity, family food security and asset accumulation.  There is also widespread evidence that social protection transfers can reduce child labour  as well as, from more limited examples, supporting safer behaviors among adolescents

However, the evidence also shows that providing cash (as part of social protection transfers) alone brings about more limited results on higher level outcomes for children, such as improved learning, health and nutritional status and protection.  Such higher-level impacts for children are often additionally dependent on other factors. These further factors may include: knowledge and practices of appropriate child care and parenting among parents, care-givers and communities; the availability and accessibility of local basic services; service quality and accountability to users; and household investments made in children. Complementary actions to address these factors, based on context-specific analysis, can potentially be effective in strengthening the impacts of cash transfers for children in poverty, especially at the outcome level. 

In order to ensure that the cash transfers being made to IDP households in the CSSP project in Hargeisa and the Unicef/MoLSA proposed Child Grant in Borama are child sensitive, complementary actions as part of the overall Child Sensitive Social Protection approach have been built into the project. The key complementary actions are i) enhancing child sensitivity of parents, caregivers, community members and ii) improving transparency and accountability in the delivery of basic services relevant to SP interventions for children.

These complementary actions need to be well planned, designed and implemented so as to demonstrate a really strong approach, for which there is a strong appetite and uptake by other actors/ donors/ Govt. in Somaliland.

The ICDP programme will be a key part of the ‘Child Sensitivity” package to be implemented in the Child Sensitive Social Protection Project (CSSP).