A social network system refers to a network of programs created to help the citizens of a given country who are in need of help at different phases of their lives. Governments or non-governmental organizations usually run them to offer social welfare, particularly to a segment of the population that has been identified to be in need. It is a continuous process that protects citizens from life’s financial insecurities.
Country X was ranked number 144 in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI) out of the 177 countries of the world. The country has very limited access to basic social services and financial resources. In addition, government coordination of services is lacking, leaving non-state actors such as faith-based organizations and NGOs to fill up the gaps. Thus, most essential services in country X are done by nongovernmental and religious-based organizations. As a result, the country’s social welfare systems and interventions are underfunded, uncoordinated, limited in impact, and fragmented.
Many families, especially those that live in remote rural areas, do not have access to essential services such as health services, water and sanitation, income-generating opportunities, and quality education for their children. 42% of the Country X’s population lack access to an improved and sustainable source of water, and 83% lack cannot access to sanitation facilities. Still, 45% do not have access to quality health care services. Moreover, the majority of members of X’s population suffer from malnutrition, food insecurity, and poor hygiene practices. One in every five children under the age of five in Country X suffers from chronic malnutrition. Besides, 67% of children under the age of five are anemic. This interferes with their normal learning and brain development. All these issues have conspired to put the country in a perpetual cycle of poverty. The rural communities of the country are the worst affected. Ensuring that these communities can access basic social services remains a top priority if the country is to achieve its long-term development goals. This can be achieved with an incredible social welfare system that is tailored to address the needs of the community.
To disrupt the vicious poverty cycle in the country, it is critical to begin by developing a model that will respond to the specific needs of the country. The model will not only improve access but also the efficiency of the delivery of social welfare services in rural communities. Through multisectoral community agents, family coaching initiatives will be created and expected to directly work with families in the provision of basic services. Some of these services will include the provision of vaccination services and nutrition supplements, connecting families to available services, and behavioral change counseling. The model will also provide a customized development plant for families. A social-economic survey that will capture the specific vulnerability levels of each family will be used to create the development plan.
The model will also offer an integrated and dynamic information management system that analyzes the vulnerabilities and conditions of each family and then propose crucial actions that need to be undertaken as well as monitor and evaluate progress over time. There will also be an opportunity map, which refers to an inventory of all the available services through different service providers to the affected populations. This will be used for purposes of referrals in the target areas. The social welfare service intends to lay the foundation of the operational strategy for sustainable and cost-effective social protection in Country X. It hopes to achieve this through the provision of a common platform that coordinates all the local level service providers’ social interventions.
The initial target will be to reach up to 15,000 families (about 69,000 people) spread across four rural communities of the country. This is a big population with complex dynamics and, therefore, will require an efficient management strategy. To achieve this, up to 200 community agents drawn from different sectors will be recruited and trained in various programs, including social welfare implementation programming. Over the first three months, 4,500 children under the age of five would have been vaccinated. Up to 40,000 people would have been involved in community meetings or played host to community agents’ visits in the same period (Riebschleger & Pierce, 2018). In addition, over 2,000 life-saving commodities like mosquito nets, water treatment, micronutrients, soap, and rehydration salts are expected to be delivered to the most vulnerable poor families in three months.
Every social welfare system approach requires huge sums of monetary allocations. It is important to have an elaborate resource mobilization strategy. After preparing a budget, various institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF, USAID, Oxfam, and the Rapid Social Response Trust Fund will be approached for possible funding. Approximately $50 million will be required to kickstart the programs. This should augment the social assistance programs that are financed by the state (Aspalter & Pribadi, 2016). Funding from such donor institutions will go a long way in overcoming the country’s financial barriers.
It must also be noted that social welfare is not only about giving the affected communities handouts in their times of need. It also entails empowering them economically through sustainable income-generating ventures such as employment and agricultural activities. Employment types that will be relevant to those particular rural settings with, hence, be explored. One of the issues that have recently been highlighted to be a key factor responsible for increasing poverty levels in rural areas is poor harvests. This has largely been caused by unpredictable weather patterns, which are blamed on global warming and climate change. Indeed, these are issues that are beyond the coping capabilities of rural communities. To cushion them from this, the social welfare program will come up with a social insurance scheme, which will see them contribute on a seasonal basis, particularly during the harvesting season. The insurer will be expected to compensate them when their crops fail.
The targeted rural communities access to social protection can be enhanced if multiple sectors, including government departments, consolidate their presence in the affected regions. This can be achieved through the creation of one-stop shops that combine all the services for ease of access. Moreover, there is a need to increase the utilization of digital technologies to improve the social welfare among the targeted rural communities. Mobile money banking is one such area in that technology can aptly be applied to help rural communities benefit from reduced transaction costs (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2018). It is, however, noted that some remote rural communities experience poor network services, a factor that hampers digital applications. For instance, the social welfare office in Conway County, Arkansas, is a one-stop shop where all social welfare programs are coordinated. The offices, which normally assist immigrants living in deplorable situations, are opened for extended hours to maximize service to clients.
The solution to this will require an intervention from the government to ease regulatory requirements to allow for alternative service providers that will result in boosting digital access. It will also be important for the government to create an enabling environment in these areas through such incentives as tax breaks for firms wishing to set up in such locations. They will play a crucial role in enhancing the welfare of the community by offering employment opportunities. However, the access and utilization of different digital technologies should not be a barrier to social services for those who do not possess mobile phones or cannot use them. The program will go a long way in conducting digital literacy and training programs to help bridge this gap.
While the social protection welfare programs will be targeted at poor rural populations, this does not mean that there are no poor people in urban areas who are also in need of the services. Poverty in urban areas, particularly within the informal settlements, also requires urgent attention. Thus, the success of the system will necessitate its transfer to the urban poor (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2017). Other than water and sanitation, access to quality health care and education, and quality housing, more emphasis will be put on empowering the urban poor with job opportunities.
Social welfare and protection schemes are great initiatives that can help pull vulnerable populations out of their disadvantaged situations. However, this is only possible if it is implemented in the right way and with enough support from all the relevant stakeholders. Such stakeholders include the targeted community itself and the government of the day. The need to anchor social welfare schemes within strong institutional and legal frameworks requires the support of the governments, which play a role in policymaking. The lack of social provisions will hamper the progress of the scheme and prevent the vulnerable communities from claiming their rights.
Aspalter, C., & Pribadi, K. T. (2016). Development and social policy: The win-win strategies of developmental social policy. Taylor & Francis.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2017). FAO social protection framework: Promoting rural development for all. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2018). Ending extreme poverty in rural areas – Sustaining livelihoods to leave no one behind. Food & Agriculture Org.
Riebschleger, J., & Pierce, B. J. (2018). Rural child welfare practice: Stories from “the field”. Oxford University Press.