Can an online platform be a 'one-stop shop' for social protection?

People using computers in an Internet cafe in Kampala, Uganda., a recently launched member-based information platform, aims to be a “one-stop shop” for social protection practitioners. Photo by: Arne Hoel / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

How can one sift through large data sets to find the valuable pieces of information that can then be used as a springboard for action, particularly in creating a universal social protection system?

There is no definitive framework for this yet, but experts from the International Policy Center for Inclusive Growth, a partnership between the U.N. Development Program and the Brazilian government, suggest providing accessible, accurate and updated information through collaboration and shared learning can be an essential first step — something they hope their new SocialProtection.Org effort can help achieve.

“The main idea is to be a one-[stop] shop for everything of interest for the community of social protection practitioners,” Alicia Spengler, IPC-IG’s project analyst for the site, told Devex. “It has been conceptualized within a broader group of multi- and bilateral agencies [and] intended to provide national players with one single approach [on] how to design a social protection system.”

The site, launched last week, houses a number of relevant studies that tackle social protection in domestic and regional contexts, as well as events related to crafting social protection programs and policies, among others. More content will be posted on the site in coming days, including webinars.

Funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the online information platform is hosted by UNDP and IPC-IG, with support from the Development Working Group of the G-20.

While various online information hubs and database portals dedicated to development issues have been launched in the past, Spengler said “there is nothing similar” to the member-based platform, given its emphasis on user engagement, user-friendliness and ease of navigation — not to mention its focus on social protection.

Some of the goals the site aims to achieve include being an “unbranded platform for south-south learning” on social protection, facilitating knowledge sharing and capacity building based on experiences, inspiring discussions between social protection practitioners, and supplying updated and independent social protection learning tools.

Among the integral stakeholders for the development of the platform include governments, particularly those of middle-income and low-income countries, civil society organizations, members of the academe, as well as think tanks. Target audiences include policymakers, government officials, G-20 member states, U.N. agencies and research institutions.

Spengler said initial data and resources posted on the site are a combination of data they collected and analyzed themselves and those from partner organizations — these institutions make their data available on the site via its “share” function.

But the IPC-IG expert stressed that the online platform is just that — a platform. Real-world results will only be achieved if the site’s users translate the information they glean from the platform into concrete action.

“The whole concept behind the platform is to capacitate national players by adding ‘how to’ concepts to their know-how and guaranteeing a constant feedback mechanism,” Spengler concluded. “[Inspiring concrete action] will be one of the main challenges of the platform.”

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About the author

  • Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.