South Asian countries urged to bring more effective social protection initiatives for the people.

As the SAARC region hosts 40 per cent of the world’s poor, who cannot even afford the basic of human needs, the countries in the region needs to bring more rigorous plans and policies for effective and useful social protection initiatives, said foreign minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey inaugurating the two-day Regional Conference, organized jointly by South Asia Center for Policy Studies (SACEP) and Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung Office for the Regional Cooperation in South Asia in the valley today.

He also underscored the need of more concerted and coordinated efforts, both at national and regional level, to guarantee minimum social protection coverage in the region. “The SAARC countries have achieved some level of improvement in the social protection sector, though they have their own policies to provide social protection and security to their citizens.

However, various studies concluded that half of the countries in the SAARC region still appear at the bottom of the list in terms of social protection measures.

The two-day regional conference brings in experts and key stakeholders from the eight SAARC countries in order to formulate a Declaration on strengthening social protection.

The Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection in South Asia will be submitted to Nepal, as it is hosting the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November.

Delivering his key note speech, former foreign minister Dr Bhekh Bahadur Thapa said that the SAARC should focus on translating its commitments into reality. He also suggested to broaden SAARC Secretariat and allow bilateral issues to be discussed in SAARC forums to help make the regional body fully functional.

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