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Social Protection Specialist

Job #: req19075
Organization: World Bank
Sector: Social Protection
Grade: GF
Term Duration: 4 years 0 months
Recruitment Type: Local Recruitment
Location: Libreville,Gabon
Required Language(s): English and French
Preferred Language(s):
Closing Date: 10/12/2022 (MM/DD/YYYY) at 11:59pm UTC

 

 Description

The World Bank Group is one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries; a unique global partnership of five institutions dedicated to ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. With 189 member countries and more than 120 offices worldwide, we work with public and private sector partners, investing in groundbreaking projects and using data, research, and technology to develop solutions to the most urgent global challenges.  For more information, visit www.worldbank.org.

Social Protection & Jobs Global Practice

As part of comprehensive approach to supporting human capital investment, the Social Protection & Jobs Global Practice delivers operational approaches and evidence-based solutions to help individuals and families manage risk, cope with chronic/transitional poverty, and access better livelihoods and jobs.
These include:
• Strategy, analysis, financing and design of programs delivering social safety nets/social assistance in the form of cash transfers, public works programs, and fee waivers; 
• Advisory and analytical services on design and delivery of contributory transfers (including old-age pensions, unemployment insurance, disability and survivor benefits), and their fiscal sustainability (including budget support for transitions);
• Analysis, design and delivery of labor market and youth employment programs (with a focus on supply side interventions and intermediation policies), as well as policy advice on labor market regulations and interventions; and
• Strategy, analysis, financing and design of integrated social protection delivery systems (e.g., payments, identification, registries, systems assessments) as underpinnings of effective social programs that can help cope with climatic shocks or underpin fiscal reforms.

The SPJ Global Practice has a large and growing portfolio in West and Central Africa, which includes both long-standing engagements on safety nets and more recent innovations around jobs for youth and digital delivery systems. The portfolio includes low- and middle-income countries as well as fragile and conflict-affected contexts.

SPJ Engagement in Gabon

Gabon has enjoyed significant oil wealth for five decades, but this has not translated into commensurate gains in living standards or human capital. Despite Gabon’s upper middle-income status ($14,420 PPP per capita income), a third (33.4 percent) of the population lives below the national poverty line equivalent to $4 per day. Moreover, the absolute number of poor is on the rise as population growth outstrips poverty reduction rates. Gabon trails behind its peers on human capital development, with a 2020 HCI score of 0.46 which is substantially lower than the 0.56 UMIC average.

Furthermore, Gabon’s low labor force participation and chronic unemployment rates are a source of concern, especially for women and youth. Only 54 percent of the working-age population is economically active. Unemployment is among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 20 percent of the workforce and 33 percent of people under 25 unemployed. Women represent 70 percent of the unemployed. 

Gabon’s social protection system has steadily evolved over the past decade. The government started an ambitious process to restructure the national social protection system in 2007, resulting in a set of reforms aimed at achieving universal health insurance and improving the country’s social safety nets.  The national strategy to assist disadvantaged households was defined in the 2014 Gabon Human Investment Strategy (SIHG). The National Social Protection Policy was validated in 2016 and the Social Protection Code was adopted in 2017.

Despite the ambitious agenda, funding for social protection has been low and inconsistent. Based on 2014 data, social assistance spending in Gabon only represented 0.2 percent of the country’s GDP, or as much as 10 times lower than the UMIC (1.95 percent) and Africa region averages (1.65 percent). Moreover, the bulk of the spending went to fee waivers, with only 0.05 percent of GDP allocated to cash transfers (vs. 0.57 percent UMIC and 0.24 percent Africa averages). Contrary to the SIHG, targeted health subsidies accounted for 89 percent of expenditures devoted to supporting “economically weak Gabonese” (GEF)  households, while cash transfers represented only 10 percent in 2015. 

Gabon’s social protection system provides limited coverage and is broadly regressive. Less than 1 in 10 GEF, or approximately 3 percent of the population, benefitted from social transfers in 2015. Of the households receiving the main benefit (subsidized health insurance), fewer than 27 percent are poor. Less than 10 percent of the poor received any form of social assistance. The targeting process has suffered from several key weaknesses, including reliance on self-registration and eligibility criteria that are not linked to poverty levels and fail to account for total household income. Based on reforms under the Fiscal Consolidation and Inclusive Growth DPF series (2017-2019), the Government promulgated a law adopting a poverty-based definition of the GEF and is now conducting a recertification exercise. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequality, highlighting the importance of a robust social protection system for an inclusive economic recovery and preparedness to future shocks. Gabon entered a recession in 2020, when the growth rate fell to -1.8 percent and job loss was estimated at 18 percent. Poverty increased by 1.4 percentage points in 2020 and is expected to remain around 33.7 percent until 2023. These challenges provide an opportunity to expand and modernize the social protection system towards improved efficiency and better impact.

DUTIES AND ACCOUNTABILITIES

The successful candidate will play a critical role in the social protection and jobs engagement in Gabon and be a key member of the Gabon SPJ team. S/he will focus on the effective implementation of ongoing analytical and technical assistance work, while working to broaden the engagement with clients. The selected candidate will be based in Libreville.  

S/he will be a member of the West and Central Africa Unit of the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice and report to the Practice Manager for the unit. The position will involve frequent interaction with government counterparts and other donor agencies. The position will also require close interaction with colleagues from the CMU, from other GPs, and with colleagues within SPJ and across units of the World Bank. 

Major responsibilities include: 

• Support high-level policy dialogue on social protection and social policy, with a focus on non-contributory social assistance and system building with key sector ministries as needed;
• Participate in technical meetings on the ongoing targeting reform, including on the GEF enumeration and recertification as well as the issuance of related decrees and regulations; 
• Support the Team Task Leader in preparing a new safety nets operation by participating in broad government consultations, conducting assessments and other analytical work, and contributing to the preparation of documents for the internal review and approval processes;
• Provide day-to-day supervision support during project implementation, including oversight of risk management issues in collaboration with relevant World Bank specialists (e.g., financial management, procurement, social and environmental safeguards);
• Ensure strong coordination with other Global Practices working on related objectives, especially Poverty, Digital Development, Health, and Education, as well as with development partners active on social protection in Gabon;
• Participate in missions and support internal operations and processing, including the preparation of mission-related documents and reporting on implementation progress; and
• Contribute to country-level studies and analytical tasks addressing SPJ and human capital issues.

Selection Criteria

• Graduate degree and minimum of Masters’ level qualification in economics, human development (social protection, education, health), social policy or related sector;

• Minimum of five years of relevant experience in analytical and/or operational work, social protection and jobs, community-driven development, and/or safety nets;

• Experience working with clients to build capacity and engage in dialogue on social protection and service delivery;

• Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English and French;

• Experience in World Bank operations as demonstrated through being team member for lending operations is a plus; similarly work with other large international organizations, NGOs and/or Government agencies specializing in social protection. 

Competencies

In addition to the above, the successful candidate is expected to demonstrate the following competencies:
General Knowledge and Analytical Skills:  Stays current on trends and literature pertaining one's area of expertise. Possesses cross-country knowledge and demonstrates ability to address issues at a broader level, as well as in depth. Demonstrates ability to link the macro, the institutional, and the micro-level behaviors and can identify the relevant sectoral analysis. Able to support findings/policy recommendations with credible analysis and tools. Proven ability to conceptualize, design, and implement major tasks, including through leading and participating in task teams of lending and non-lending operations.

Knowledge and Experience in Development Arena: Has ability to translate technical and cross-country knowledge into practical applications and contributions to country and sector strategies. Interacts with clients at the policy level, and organizes and manages policy development initiatives in collaboration with other development agencies and donors. 

Policy Dialogue Skills: Possesses political judgment, diplomatic acumen, and negotiating skills. Applies cross-country development knowledge to discussions with clients and development partners. Is able to anticipate needs and requests in the field and develop/offer relevant tools to clients. Is able to conduct independent policy discussions with representatives of the government and non-government partners on selected policy issues. Able to lead task teams, participate in formal negotiations, and assist government in establishing priorities.

Social Protection Knowledge and Experience: Has experience leading social protection work and dealing with institutional design and implementation issues, including on building social protection systems. Is able to conceptualize issues and help clients develop flexible and creative approaches to social protection strategy. Can contribute to regional and sectoral strategies, products and tasks, and understands the 
principles of evaluation and the interpretation of their results. Knowledge and expertise in agriculture, natural resource management and climate change is an asset.  

Integrative Skills: Is able to link all relevant cross-sectoral areas to own work, and understands how they are interrelated. Draws on diverse, cross-sectoral teams to enhance the rigor of advice on cross-cutting and sectoral issues. For operations roles, demonstrates ability to undertake cross-sectoral work, in lending and non-lending operations.

Lead and Innovate: Encourages and works with others to identify, incubate and implement relevant solutions. Identifies opportunities in changing circumstances and energizes others to continuously improve, using intentional strategies to boost morale, team spirit, and productivity. Helps others to understand problems, client needs and the underlying context.

Deliver Results for Clients: Develops and implements solutions that show understanding of how clients and/or own work achieves results that are financially, environmentally and socially sustainable. Shares new insights based on in-depth understanding of the client and recommends solutions for current and future needs of clients. Holds self and team accountable for risk management and outcomes.

Collaborate within Teams and Across Boundaries: Collaborates across organizational boundaries, internally and externally with a sense of mutuality and respect. Consistently engages others in open dialogue, brings out any conflicting viewpoints and incorporates viewpoints into solutions, giving credit where credit is due. Leverages expertise of all team members to ensure successful outcomes. 

Create, Apply and Share Knowledge: Ensures systematic sharing of good practice and learning from lessons from across clients and partners. Is known across the international development community in their subject area and is sought out to advise, peer review, or contribute to knowledge products of others. Seeks mentoring opportunities with more experienced staff to deepen or strengthen their professional knowledge and mentor junior staff. Builds networks as part of external professional groups/networks.

Make Smart Decisions:  Applies critical thinking and seeks inputs and experience from others to recommend a course of action. Evaluates risk and anticipates the short- and long-term implications of decisions. Commits to a decision and takes action once a decision has been reached.

World Bank Group Core Competencies

The World Bank Group offers comprehensive benefits, including a retirement plan; medical, life and disability insurance; and paid leave, including parental leave, as well as reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

We are proud to be an equal opportunity and inclusive employer with a dedicated and committed workforce, and do not discriminate based on gender, gender identity, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability.

Learn more about working at the World Bank and IFC, including our values and inspiring stories.