Advisory on the design, operationalization, and delivery of social allowances in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

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International Labour Organization

1. Background
Palestine is a highly fragile and conflict-affected environment; this has been exacerbated since 7th October 2023. Since October, the escalation in hostilities has led to an estimated 1.9 million Palestinians being internally displaced. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are now estimated to be living in multidimensional poverty, with vulnerability increasing in the West Bank too. The ILO estimates that 507,000 jobs have been lost as of 31 January 2024 which comprise 201,000 jobs lost in Gaza Strip and 306,000 jobs lost in the West Bank. Not all jobs lost will be able to recover and some segments of the population will remain vulnerable.

Furthermore, according to the PCBS, 40 per cent of the population in the OPT are children (aged 0-14 years) and 5 per cent are aged 60 or over. The number of older people is expected to remain stable over the next decade, but will grow rapidly afterwards, especially the number of older women, due to ongoing demographic transformations, including declining fertility rates and improvements in life expectancy. An estimated 2.1 percent of the population, approximately 92,710 individuals in 2017, are identified as having severe disabilities based on medical evaluations. It is anticipated that this percentage will notably increase following the conflict and ongoing warfare in Gaza.

Roughly one in five children, two in five persons with disabilities and just less than half of all older persons receive support through the Palestinian national social protection system. The coverage of some social protection floor guarantees in OPT are in line with regional averages across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Coverage of children is slightly lower at 20 per cent in OPT compared to 23 per cent regionally and on par for older persons at 45 per cent, which is also the regional average. Coverage in all categories remains however significantly below world average. See Annex 1 for more details on the background and demography of older persons and persons with disability in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Before 7th October 2023, the Palestinian Authority had made significant steps towards establishing a rights-based social protection system, moving towards protecting individuals throughout the stages of their lifecycle. The Council of Ministers adopted the MoSD new policy in September 2023 introducing individual social allowances for persons with severe disability and older persons aged over 65 without another source of income. Over one-quarter of older people live in poverty, disproportionately affecting women who tend to live longer than men and are more likely to be widowed and live alone; meanwhile, poverty rates are starkly and consistently higher (roughly 9% higher) across the lifecycle among persons with disabilities compared to the rest of the population.1 These new programmes build on the existing commitment (in previous MoSD strategies and budgets) to establish a social protection floor, in solidarity with the groups that suffer from the highest levels of social and economic exclusion and who have limited capacity for self-reliance or to attain a minimum standard of living.

Since 2024, the MoSD has redesigned the programme utilising EU PEGASE funding, which is currently only available to pay beneficiaries who are on the social registry and in the West Bank (until PEGASE assessments become administratively feasible in Gaza again). The revised system will include social allowances and a poverty-targeted element, to be paid quarterly from early 2024 onwards.

Whilst the current situation brings unprecedented need, it also offers opportunities to fast-track and streamline solutions. These solutions can meet an urgent need to strengthen the design and implementation of social allowances, both immediately and in the longer-term. The ILO and UNICEF, together with Oxfam, are implementing an EU-funded project, “Strengthening nexus coherence and responsiveness in the Palestinian social protection sector”. This aims to support the MoSD to enhance coordination across government and non-governmental actors and initiatives in the social protection sector. The main objectives are to i) increase rights-based and nexus programmatic coherence of social protection, and ii) enhance responsiveness of the social protection system. The following activities will be delivered under the objectives of this project.

2. Purpose
The purpose of this assignment is to conduct a readiness assessment of MoSD systems for delivering social allowances and to build awareness about the importance of the needed reforms in alignment with rights-based social protection. The External Collaborator (EC) will advise the ILO and MoSD on the concrete steps needed to ensure the existing systems deliver against the objective of rights-based social protection.

The EC will work directly with MoSD technical staff, under ILO coordination. The modality will likely be remote, unless travel restrictions ease in the region. The primary audience for the work is MoSD core staff who are involved in the design and delivery of social allowances, and the ILO which is supporting this initiative. The secondary audience for the work is development partners who either fund or are involved in strengthening the national system (such as the EU, UNICEF, WFP and the World Bank) and humanitarian actors, who have recently engaged in coordination efforts to align to the national system. The EC will provide technical advice on how humanitarian and development actors can support the delivery of social allowances, will continue the advocacy for the social allowances vis-à-vis these actors, and will advise on best means through which humanitarian actors can align with the new national right-based programmes, taking into consideration the unique features and mandate of each actor. The EC must be able to communicate effectively with both national and international actors.

3. Activities
Under the supervision of the Technical Officer for Social Protection and the National Project Coordinator based in ILO-Jerusalem, the External Collaborator will carry out the following activities:

• Create a checklist of critical requirement related to the successful operationalization of social allowances, in line with international good practices and rights-based approaches, including the right-based social assistance toolkit, currently in development stage by ILO. Based on global experience and international labour standards, the EC should create a practical outline of the ‘ideal state’ of social allowances operationalization and delivery to inform stakeholders.

• Review programme design and delivery mechanisms of new social allowances, and map the ‘as is’ situation against the ‘to be’ checklist. Through discussions with the ILO and MoSD, as well as other counterparts if needed, the EC will review the existing status of the social allowances programmes and map against the ideal state. This will allow for a clear understanding of strengths, weaknesses, risks and opportunities with the current operational design.

• Develop a short action plan and roadmap on immediate and medium-term next steps to enhance quality of operational processes of social allowances in a rights-based manner, separately for both West Bank and Gaza Strip. This will be a practical document that will be used by the MoSD and the ILO. It will identify which areas of operational strengthening are most urgent, to be implemented by the MoSD and ILO in the immediate term. It will also identify medium-term reforms that will be supported by the ILO in late 2024 and beyond. All action points will provide practical and actionable next steps to be taken to implement the needed reforms, and will provide an indicative costing for the work to be done, if relevant.

• Within the action plan, expand on immediate next steps by providing detailed step-by-step guidance and direct technical assistance on how to implement recommended operational strengthening. To complete this task, additional discussions may be required with MoSD staff to understand the status, dependencies, and key enablers/blockers of specific system elements currently.

• Throughout, engage with MoSD and ILO teams in practical discussions, including in a workshop format. The recommended reforms will need to be taken forward by MoSD, so they will need to have buy-in and ownership for the proposed roadmap. Discussions and brainstorming sessions will be necessary throughout the process.

• Deliver a total of 2 days of training on why individual approaches and rights-based social protection is important, with a specific focus on rights-based approaches for operationalization. This will build on the action plan developed, but will also provide wider advocacy points for MoSD staff at all levels (and potentially to other stakeholders) on the importance and relevance of rights-based social protection. The training could take place in a formal 2-day setting (online), but is more likely to constitute several sessions targeted at different audiences or focusing on different priority topics identified during the assignment.

4. Outputs
The deliverable outputs of the assignment under the scope of these terms of reference will include:

1. Submission of a checklist and action plan for social allowances operational strengthening. The preparation of this report will involve meetings with MoSD and ILO, as well as potentially other stakeholders, to generate ownership for the proposed reforms. Completion of the final report will be based on feedback and comments received from key stakeholders.

2. Delivery of 2-days total of training on rights-based social protection. This could include formal training sessions and individual advocacy meetings, targeting different audiences within MoSD and the sector.

3. Direct technical assistance on how to implement recommended operational strengthening. The summary of such technical assistance to be outlined in a separate guidance report.

Assignment duration and payment schedule
15 working days. From May 2024 to August 2024.

• First payment, 35% payable upon receipt of the checklist and action plan, incorporating findings from the discussions with ILO and MoSD, and responding to feedback received. (Deliverable 1), by 15 June 2024.

• Second payment , 35% payable upon delivery of 2-days of training and advocacy on rights-based social protection. (Deliverable 2), by 15 August 2024.

• Third payment (final), 30% payable upon receipt of the guidance report outlining the direct technical assistance on how to implement recommended operational strengthening. (Deliverable 3), by 21 August 2024.

Qualifications and Experience Required:
The ILO is seeking a specialist in the design and delivery of social allowances, who can support the ILO in brainstorming routes forward for strengthening social allowances and can provide a timebound roadmap for next steps. The EC should also be a strong communicator on rights-based social protection, particularly in translating complex topics into clear messages and action points for national counterparts.

The External Collaborator is expected to have the following qualifications, experience and competencies:
• Education: University degree in relevant subject, such as development studies, social protection, social policy, economics, law, etc.
• At least five years of relevant work experience in social protection policy.
• Documented experience and exposure to the implementation of non-contributory social protection cash programmes, in the various operational facets (registration, selection and identification, payment, GRM, etc)
• Familiarity and exposure to rights-based approaches to social protection
• Familiarity with the work of the ILO and with international labour standards.
• Ability to work proactively while keeping ILO officials engaged and informed.
• Excellent command written English. Arabic would be an advantage.

How to apply

Application process
Interested candidates please submit a CV, cover letter and fee rate to the ILO (Momin Badarna, [email protected]) by 15 May 2024.

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