ILO-UNICEF-UNDP Joint Programme on Accelerating Agenda 2030 in Uzbekistan through inclusive transformation of the social protection system


Social protection is at the forefront of the development agenda, given its positive social and economic impacts. It is a key element of national strategies to promote human development, political stability and inclusive growth; it ensures that people enjoy income security and have effective access to health and other social services, and are empowered to take advantage of economic opportunities. By raising household incomes, such policies play a key role in boosting domestic demand, supporting structural transformation of national economies, promoting decent work, and fostering inclusive and sustainable growth. They also create a conducive environment for the development of sustainable enterprises. Social protection, therefore, is regarded as fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to promoting social justice and to realizing the human right to social security for all.

Uzbekistan has inherited from the Soviet Union a comprehensive social protection system, based on the principles of full employment, universal childcare, and guaranteed old age income security, the latter of which is funded primarily through social insurance. However, Uzbekistan has neither a formal definition of social protection nor a dedicated institution to design, coordinate, and manage the many different programmes that currently exist. At present, social protection is fragmented across various institutions with none responsible for the coordination of interventions. While each institution may have a well-developed vertical organisational structure, horizontal links across programmes and schemes appear to be absent. As a result of this fragmentation, Uzbekistan’s attempts to integrate a number of programmes makes it unclear what impact the links between the individual programmes will have on the populace and the system as a whole. More importantly, the effectiveness of substantial resources invested in social protection is not optimized due to fragmentation and lack of an integrated approach to benefits and services.

Uzbekistan’s expenditure on SP amounted to 6% of GDP in 2018,  placing it in the lower range of a group of countries including Europe and the CIS in terms of investment. Nevertheless, the majority of SP expenditure in 2018 was for social insurance programmes (approximately 83.31%), having slightly risen since 2012. Spending on social assistance programmes was 0.92% of GDP in 2018, placing it significantly below regional average spending on social assistance in Europe and Central Asia.

Relatively well-articulated and comprehensive social protection system is composed of social insurance, social assistance, social care services, and labour market interventions, although nearly half the population and one-third of the poor are not included in any SP scheme. Household survey data (L2CU, 2018)  indicate that social protection supports approximately 55% of the population, mostly through the social insurance that covers 44%. The total number of beneficiaries of all SP programmes fell from 8.1 million people in 2012 to 6.4 million in 2017; the greatest fall was recorded among beneficiaries of unemployment benefits and low-income family allowances. The coverage across all contingencies and population groups needs to be improved to ensure all households in need are protected. Social security remains out of reach for most of the population; approximately 60% of working age people are in the informal sector, and do not participate in contributory social insurance schemes.

Similarly, there are coverage gaps in social assistance. For example, child benefits reduced from universal to being available only for low income families. Unfortunately, even with the stringent criteria in place, the majority of the eligible low-income families are not accessing child benefits. Given that the country is at the early demographic dividend stage, failure to invest in social protection of children could result in significant losses and risks for Uzbekistan’s human capital of tomorrow (e.g. worse nutrition, health, and education outcomes leading to lower productivity).

Currently, labour market programmes (LMP) are limited in scope and most take the form of public works, entrepreneurship support, and training programmes. The shares of expenditure on active and passive LMPs have been increasing, although they remain strikingly low, especially in light of the considerable employment challenges that face the country. Coverage of unemployment benefits is around 1% of the registered unemployed, and there is no, or minimal, insurance element for workers in the event of unemployment, a core component of international social security standards. There is little sign of integration and coordination between benefits and training programmes and training and public work programmes, nor any between these and entrepreneurship programmes and self-employment support.

Thus, the UN SDG MAPS mission to Uzbekistan identified social protection as one of the potential accelerators for the achievement of SDGs and suggested to strengthen its national system, including by adopting nationally defined social protection floor. The UN initiated Joint Programme which will contribute to the implementation of the obligations of Uzbekistan towards the social protection of its citizens in accordance with the Constitution of Uzbekistan and other significant documents. ILO, UNICEF and UNDP are being implemented the Joint Programme, which sets out to support Uzbekistan’s government and constituents to:
  1. Design a national leadership and coordination entity that is capable of undertaking key policy decisions that will begin, in the short-term, to close important coverage gaps in the system – in particular among children and their families, people with disabilities and a growing gap among older persons – while strengthening the operational delivery of systems (UNICEF lead component);
  2. Design a comprehensive and costed national social protection strategy in line with international human rights mechanisms and social security standards, which: (i) develops a medium and long-term vision for the social protection sector; (ii) ensures that links are made between social insurance, social assistance, social support services and employment programmes; (iii) ensures that social protection priorities are aligned; (iv) ensures better coordination among agencies involved in design and delivery at all levels; and, v) is costed alongside an analysis of the medium and long-term fiscal space for social protection (ILO lead component);
  3. Design, pilot the ICF and CRPD-compliant disability assessment and social service delivery schemes, analyze the lessons learnt from high impact integrated interventions for people with disabilities. These interventions and lessons learnt will inform the national social protection strategy and its implementation (UNDP lead component).

Project overview:

Overall objective of the ILO’s component is to assist in designing an integrated and costed long term National Social Protection Strategy with medium term action plan built on evidence and developed through wide stakeholder consultations and citizen engagement. The strategy will address social insurance, social assistance and social services, while establishing links with education, health and labour market policies. It will be in line with the Social Protection Floor Initiative, international social security standards and human rights instruments. It will also address different vulnerabilities across the lifecycle with an emphasis on the position of children, women and persons with disabilities, in particular those who are most likely to be left behind. It is expected that the strategy will play a key role over the next 10 years in ensuring that the government meets its obligation to enable access to the right to social protection for all citizens with a focus on most disadvantaged. The strategy will also outline a roadmap for building an effective social work and social care system, to provide tailored support to the country’s most vulnerable citizens, including people with disabilities. Importantly, the strategy will be costed and will include a clear impact-based monitoring framework. Finally, in addition to a costing and simulation exercise, an analysis of fiscal space for social protection will be carried out in order to provide the government, constituents and stakeholders with the options for investment into social protection.

Project title

Accelerating Agenda 2030 in Uzbekistan through inclusive transformation of the social protection system



Project objective

To support the Government in building and delivering a high-quality social protection system that offers all citizens of Uzbekistan – in particular, those at risk of being left behind – income security and social support throughout their lives.






Outcome 1

By 2022, a national social protection strategy in line with the Agenda 2030 is developed and costed (Output 2 of the Joint Programme)




Areas of work:

Develop a concept note outlining the shared vision of national social protection and its contribution to Agenda 2030

Capacity building of national counterparts on Social Protection Floor and social security standards

Draft national social protection strategy (through a participatory consultative process)

Conduct costing exercise for the national strategy

Conduct analysis of fiscal space for social protection





Outcome 2

Socio economic impact of COVID -19 on income security of workers in informal and formal economy and access to social protection



Areas of work:

Support drafting rapid survey tools assessing impact of pandemic on informal workers incomes and position, and on enterprises

Gap analysis of governments social protection measures

Conduct scenarios analysis and forecasting

Draft an assessment of the socio-economic impact on income security and employment

The UN Joint Programme on Strengthening Social Protection in Uzbekistan - 2020 Milestones

БМТнинг ижтимоий ҳимояни мустаҳкамлаш Қўшма дастури Сизнинг эътиборингизга 2020-йил муҳим воқеаларни ўзининг ахборот бюллетени орқали тақдим этмоқда