Improved social security in Senegal and Burkina Faso

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Participants attend the General Assembly

General Assembly of the 'national health insurance fund for craftspeople' in Dakar. © ILO

Social security is an absolute priority for Minister Kitir. Too many people have to survive on an informal job and do not have the slightest social security provision. They include street vendors, cleaning staff, security guards, staff in restaurants, taxi drivers, craftspeople such as metal or wood workers, and so on. The slightest setback – illness, an accident at work, unemployment, for example – will cause them to lose all of their income. They do not build up a pension and have no health insurance. In short, informal workers are extremely vulnerable to extreme poverty.

Yet over 60% of the world's workforce works in the informal economy. In Senegal, only 20% of the population has some form of social security, while in Burkina Faso it is only 7.5%.

Capacity building and social dialogue

Nevertheless, both Senegal and Burkina Faso are working on a policy that is intended to make social security available for informal workers. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is supporting both countries in this endeavour. Belgium is providing the ILO with 2 million euros of funding to set up inclusive and sustainable social security systems, with a focus on health insurance for informal workers.

The project aims above all to increase the capacity, not only of national and local authorities, but also of social partners and players in the social and solidarity economy. Social dialogue between all the parties concerned is key to ensuring that social security meets everyone's needs. Much attention will also be paid to awareness campaigns.

The intention is for Senegal and Burkina Faso to learn from each other and that the experiences gained will be shared with other West African countries. There is also close cooperation with similar projects funded by the EU and France.

COVID-19 is only making the situation more urgent. The pandemic is a typical example of a major external shock against which informal workers have no defence at all.

Minister Kitir has also allocated 50 million euros to boost social security in the Great Lakes region (Central Africa).

Senegalese Minister of Labour hands Minister Kitir a handbag

The Senegalese Minister of Labour presents a snakeskin handbag to Minister Kitir, in gratitude for the support to the ILO programme. © ILO

Banner "Bienvenue à Mme Meryame Kitir"

Welcome banner for Minister Kitir. © ILO