By Abigail Chaponda in London, United Kingdom
Minister of Community Development and Social Services, Honourable Emerine Kabanshi has said the Zambian Government will continue to partner with the Irish Government in the effective and efficient implementation of Social Protection Services in Zambia.
The Minister is on a learning visit in Ireland from 16thto 21stJuly, 2018 on Social Protection facilitated by the Embassy of Ireland in Lusaka.
On Monday, Hon. Kabanshi had a number of meetings with various shakeholders toacquire acknowledge on social protection in Ireland which she said would help in improvingthesocial protection systems in the country.
The Minister had a meeting with the Director General of Irish Aid at which a number of Social Protection interventions in Zambia especially on disability were discussed for partnership and collaboration.
She expressed her gratitude to the Republic of Ireland for the learning visit, which she saw to be valuable as most of the experiences faced by Ireland were similar to Zambia although at different levels.
The Minister said Zambia is commited to improving the various social protection systems in the country.
“The PF Government under the Leadership of His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu will continue to Partner with the Irish Government in the effective and efficient implementation of Social Protection Services in Zambia as Ireland is contributing K30 million to the Social Cash Transfer programme apart from other technical assistance given to Social Protection Programmes,” she said.
The Minister also visited Honourable Fianian McGrath, the Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability to learn on how the Government of Ireland had developed the services and disability sector over time.
Honourable Kabanshi noted that reformation of the disability sector in Ireland came a long way and involved interventions to change mind set.
She was informed that 6 percent of the labour force both public and private in Ireland were reserved for persons with disabilities and both sectors received incentives such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme by Government.
The Minister learnt that a de-congregation strategy was used to integrate persons with disabilities to households in communities rather than institutionalising them.
The outcome of the meeting included learning on the Ability Programme in which the interventions on disability focussed on the abilities of persons with disabilities rather than their disabilities as well as training persons with disabilities for the job that suit them.
The meeting discussed among other things the engagement of the private sector on disability and inclusive education activities by making use of the Special Needs Assistant.
The Minister also had a meeting with the Deputy Secretary in the Department of Social Protection, Anne Vaughan and officials from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection where she learnt how the Department was implementing a number of Social Protection programmes from a lifecycle approach, which begins early in life to prevent individuals from falling into poverty and deprivation and to ensure that those trapped by poverty are taken out.
The Minister said the meeting with Anne Vaughan was seen as benefical to the processes which Zambia was undergoing in improving various social protection systems such as the payment systems, the complaints mechanism and the Integrated framework of Basic Social protection in which the single window service system would be implemented.
Hon. Kabanshi said the meetings in Ireland were a resource and would provide input in improvingthe various social protection systems in the Zambia.