The International Labour Organization (ILO), UNICEF and the World Bank welcome the establishment of the National Social Protection Agency under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. This was stated in their joint statement issued on Thursday.

“As the leading agencies supporting the social protection reform globally and in Uzbekistan, we believe this will be a critical step for advancing Uzbekistan’s Social Protection Agenda and the implementation of the National Social Protection Strategy, and, Uzbekistan’s national development targets and the SDGs, which are geared towards reducing and preventing poverty, vulnerability, and social exclusion of individuals and families throughout the life cycle,” the statement reads.

“The Agency is mandated to coordinate, facilitate, and provide comprehensive and integrated social protection systems to ensure the prevention of vulnerabilities and the protection of those left behind. We firmly believe that the newly established Agency will be crucial to help address fragmentation or gaps in the social protection functions and strengthen monitoring and evaluation of the social protection system,” the statement says.

The international organizations hailed that the Agency “will have a special focus on child protection and disability inclusion priorities, in alignment with the Conventions and treaties.”

“This newly established Agency provides a clear and authoritative focal point for the development of social protection policy which brings together social security and social services and linkages with employment, as well as other services,” the joint statement notes.

“We hope that the Agency will steer the overall national social protection policy framework, lead in the design of individual programmes, and ensure coherence while overseeing evidence-based implementation and delivery of interventions,” the international institutions expressed hope.

“Under the Agency, we see immense opportunities in Uzbekistan to build adaptive and , responsive social protection, to help strengthen families and children resilience to protracted, slow or sudden onset of shocks and crises affecting their well-being,” the statement reads.

The joint statement concludes that “ILO, UNICEF and the World Bank stand ready to continue supporting the Government of Uzbekistan in advancing social protection for all in the country.”

The long road to establishing the agency

The need to create a single agency responsible for social protection has been advocated by national experts and international organizations for many years. The National Social Protection Agency will unify the functions of social protection that were previously scattered among several ministries and agencies, reducing the efficiency of work in this area.

President Mirziyoyev announced the establishment of the agency at the UzLiDeP congress on May 30, where he was confirmed as a presidential candidate. He appointed Mansurbek Olloyorov as his advisor on social protection and the director of the new agency on June 1.

The need for a revamped social protection system and the introduction of professional social workers was highlighted by Aziza Umarova, a specialist in public administration and institutional reforms, in a column for last year. She also wrote in 2018 that a single coordinating body was needed to ensure an effective social protection system.

The document establishing the agency has not yet been published online.