The ISSA Good Practice Award for Africa 2023 has been awarded to the Department of Social Development in South Africa for the Child Support Grant and its role in the gradual extension of social security coverage to vulnerable children.
Algeria wins the ISSA Special Distinction for Innovation
For the first time ever, a Special Distinction for Innovation was awarded as part of a good practices competition. The winner of this special distinction was the National Social Insurance Fund for Employees (Caisse nationale des assurances sociales des travailleurs salaries) of Algeria for the good practice “Electronic medical records”.
The Department of Social Development of South Africa won the prestigious ISSA award in a competition that attracted 137 entries from 46 member institutions of the International Social Security Association (ISSA) in 30 countries. This is the highest number of entries ever to the African competition, which demonstrates the value of showcasing good practices in social security.
“This South African Child Support Grant is a worthy winner of the ISSA Good Practice Award for Africa as it is a clear example of how social security can effectively reduce poverty, and in particular child poverty”, said Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano, ISSA Secretary General.
The Child Support Grant
The Child Support Grant (CSG) has played a central role in reducing child poverty in South Africa in the post-apartheid era since the new democratic government introduced the CSG to replace the racially based and discriminatory State Maintenance Grant (SMG).
Based on available resources, the CSG was implemented incrementally, gradually expanding the number of poor children covered. When first introduced in 1998, 1.5 million children under six years were targeted, and by 2023 this had reached 13 million children up to the age of 18. The CSG contributed to strongly reducing the child poverty rate, notably 78 per cent in 2003 and 65 per cent in 2013, and the percentage of children living in food poverty from 53 to 33 per cent.
An evaluation showed that CSG recipients are less likely to experience illnesses and more likely to complete their school grades, and adolescent beneficiaries are less likely to engage in risky behaviour, including sexual activity, teenage pregnancy, alcohol abuse, drug use, criminal activity, and gang membership.
The international jury that decided the ISSA Good Practice Award for Africa noted that “The programme plays a crucial role in the realisation of the fundamental human right to social security for all with far-reaching impacts on reducing poverty and socio-economic vulnerability of children and families.”
Relevance of the ISSA Guidelines
While the ISSA Guidelines were not in existence when the CSG first started, they have played a role in the further development of the programme. The Department of Social Development points to the critical value of the following guidelines in ensuring that coverage was expanded equally to all vulnerable children in South Africa:
- ISSA Guidelines on Administrative Solutions for Coverage Extension;
- ISSA Guidelines on Good Governance, and
- ISSA Guidelines on Service Quality.
Many other high quality good practices from the competition are being showcased and discussed during the Regional Social Security Forum for Africa, and all are available in the ISSA Good Practice Database.