Delivered by Sarah Bailey, Head of Programme, on behalf of Regis Chapman, Country Director
The World Food Programme is sincerely looking forward to this joint programme and working together with UN agencies and the government to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals through strengthening social protection. COVID-19 has highlighted the absolutely critical role that social protection plays in supporting vulnerable people and groups both in normal times and when shocks occur such as disasters like COVID-19.
The WFP has been working alongside the Government of Jamaica, primarily with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, to assist vulnerable people who have been impacted by the pandemic as part of national assistance efforts and drawing on and supporting social protection systems. This began with food assistance in 2021 and continued with an extended partnership to the provision of cash grants in late 2021 and early 2022 using digital payments with WiPay.
These measures include strengthening social protection and response systems, including through digitalizing and using digital processes, which offer significant potential for making social protection more responsive to shocks in the future.
Evidence and learning, which are key features of this joint programme, have been an important component of these efforts as well. The 2020, WFP and Oxford Policy management case study that was mentioned in the introduction looked at research on shock-responsive social protection, identifying opportunities to strengthen social protection in ways that support people impacted by shocks and disasters. Data as we know is crucial, food security and livelihood surveys have been conducted that track the impacts of the pandemic on how people earn a living, both in the Caribbean at large and specifically in Jamaica. Just last week, a workshop was held in Kingston with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, WFP and WiPay to assess lessons learned from the recent cash assistance programme. Evidence and lessons generated by UN agencies and by the government will guide all of our work in this SDG Fund Joint Programme to further modernize the social protection system in Jamaica. We are honoured and excited to work as one UN to support the Government of Jamaica to strengthen social protection payment mechanisms, strengthen data management, targeting and digitalisation and towards reaching the goals of the Vision 2030 Jamaica - National Development Plan.