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Webinar 3: A Review of Achievements and Challenges since the 2011 Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening Conference

Webinar Summary and Recording

Click here to view the full webinar.

On November 15, 2011 the Social Service Workforce Strengthening Alliance hosted their third webinar, entitled A Review of Achievements and Challenges since the 2010 Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening Conference. The conference referenced in this title, which was held one year ago in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together teams from eighteen sub-Saharan African countries to explore a range of strategies for planning, developing and supporting the social service workforce. During the conference, country teams shared promising practices and challenges and developed and/or refined strategic action plans for implementing social welfare workforce strengthening initiatives within their countries. Since the conference, several country teams have made impressive progress towards implementing these plans. The webinar featured presentations from three of these countries, which described the status of their workforce one year ago, efforts to address workforce gaps, challenges faced over the past year, achievements and lessons learned.

Robert Clay, Deputy Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Global Health Bureau, opened the webinar by acknowledging the formidable mandate of the social service workforce, which faces complicated social problems and overwhelming workloads. Clay thanked those who work in the field of social service as well as those who support this critically important workforce. He remarked that while much had been accomplished in the past year, social service workforce strengthening is a multiyear effort, and reassured webinar participants that US Government will remain a partner in this effort for many years to come. The webinar was moderated by Nankali Maksud, OVC Specialist at the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office. Maksud began by providing an overview of social service workforce strengthening challenges and achievements in sub-Saharan Africa during the past year. She noted the ministries of social welfare continue to be chronically underfunded, engaging key decision makers remains a challenge, or the data available to inform workforce strengthening decisions continue to be incomplete. However, much of the news is good. In Malawi, the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Gender, Children and Community Development has adopted workforce strengthening as his personal mission. Other country teams, such as Kenya, Haiti, and Nigeria, have spent the last year collecting more accurate information about the workforce. Mozambique has submitted a proposal to Global Fund Round 11 for assistance to fill social work vacancies. In Zimbabwe, the Council of Social Work is working closely with the Department of Social Services to operationalize by-laws allowing private social workers to carry out specific statutory functions previously carried out by public social workers. Across the continent, workforce strengthening efforts have made great strides.

The webinar presentations highlighted several of these initiatives in Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi. Kaboggoza James Sembatya, Assistant Commissioner for Children for Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, discussed a recent survey carried out by his Ministry that analyzed the staffing and funding of Uganda’s social welfare sector. The results of the survey were used to develop an issues paper for Parliamentarians highlighting human resources and funding gaps that constrain provision of child care and protection service and advocate for increased funding and staffing. In addition, progress has been made on the development of child protection curriculum at post graduate, undergraduate, diploma and certificate levels. One university has already adopted the courses while a second university and the National Institute for Social Development are in the final stages of adopting the courses. Maijamaa Kwassau, Director of Social Welfare for Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, described the establishment of a National Steering Committee for Social Development Workforce Strengthening and a series of activities to strengthen training programs and expand the workforce at the most local levels of government. Bruce Grant, Chief, OVC and Child Protection for UNICEF Malawi, described new degree and diploma courses and indicated that the first intake of students in planned for September 2012. Maksud concluded by noting that the three countries featured during today’s presentations are typical of many of other countries represented at the Conference last year. Although they have made impressive progress, they are in many ways, at the beginning and very difficult stages of workforce strengthening and have faced many real challenges and frustrations.

For more information about the programs presented during the webinar, see links below: 

Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Care, Support and Protection in Nigeria

Issues Paper August 2011: Strengthening Human Resources and Financing for Childcare and Protective Services