Fiscal space for child-sensitive social protection in the MENA region


Social protection policies can help address the multifaceted nature of child poverty and improve children’s well-being, especially in the areas of education, health and nutrition. Providing adequate social protection to children is particularly relevant in the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as multidimensional child poverty remains a major concern in the region. Today, the scope and adequacy of the region’s social protection systems remain limited. MENA countries have traditionally relied on universal subsidies and contributory insurance schemes and despite recent reforms in the non-contributory sector, the schemes in place are far from reaching all children in need.

Yet social protection requires funding. Therefore, the need to expand child-sensitive social protection leads to the question of how countries can finance such an expansion. This webinar discussed the possibilities that MENA countries might have to free up resources to scale up social protection expenditures. Carolina Bloch (IPC-IG) started by presenting the main findings of the joint UNICEF-IPC-IG study “Fiscal space for child-sensitive social protection in the MENA region”, which identifies the scope for additional and more effective spending in such policies. Mr. Khalid Abu-Ismail and Mr. Niranjan Sarangi (UN-ESCWA) then presented their research on fiscal policy for development in the MENA region. Finally, Mr. Abdel-Rahmen El Lahga (Université de Tunis) discussed the options to finance a child grant in Tunisia. 


Carolina Bloch, IPC-IG

Khalid Abu-Ismail and Niranjan Sarangi, UN-ESCWA

Abdel-Rahmen El Lahga, Université de Tunis


Luca Pellerano, International Labour Organization


Reading resources: 

SDG Costing & Financing for low-income developing countries (2019)

FISCAL SPACE FOR SOCIAL PROTECTION: A Handbook for Assessing Financing Options (2019)

Measuring financing gaps in social protection for achieving SDG target 1.3: Global estimates and strategies for developing countries (2019)

Rethinking Inequality in Arab Countries (2019)

Rethinking Fiscal Policy for the Arab Region (2017)


This was the seventh webinar of the Social Protection in the MENA region webinar series, which was organised by IPC-IG and UNICEF MENA Regional Office. Please join the Online Community Social Protection in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) if you are interested in following the most recent discussions on the topic.