Baseline study on extending social protection to migrant workers in IGAD Region Vacancy in Ethiopia

Countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan
Organization: International Labour Organization
Closing date: 13 Aug 2021

1. Context

The IGAD region is characterized by migratory movements driven by multiple political, economic, and environmental factors, making it difficult to establish clear lines between categories of migrants, refugees and forcibly displaced populations. Well-governed labour migration can contribute to sustainable development for countries of origin, transit and destination, and can provide benefits and opportunities for migrant workers and their families. On the contrary, poorly governed labour migration can bring risks and challenges, including for sustainable development and decent work, in countries of origin, transit and destination, especially for low-wage workers. Cognizant of these, IGAD and its member States have taken steps to manage and address the issue of migration in the region. In this regard, among other things, IGAD and its Member States have developed and adopted comprehensive migration policy framework, the IGAD Regional Migration Policy Framework in 2012 and further developed Migration Action plan (MAP) 2015-2020. Currently, ministers of labour and ministers of interior of the IGAD member states have endorsed the IGAD protocol on Free Movement of Persons. All these instruments identified facilitation labour mobility, and free movement of persons, including establishment and residence as their strategic priority.

In order to support IGAD and its member States towards establishing a free movement of persons regime, the ILO is implementing a technical cooperation project entitled “Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in the IGAD Region: Improving Opportunities for Regular Labour Mobility (FMPT)” with the financial support of the European Union. The overall objective of the project is to improve opportunities for regulated labour mobility and decent work within the IGAD member States through the development of models of intervention, in the broader context of regional integration.

In this context, the ILO in close collaboration with IGAD secretariat plans to conduct an assessment of existing social security systems and examine the prospects for the conclusion of a sub-regional multilateral social security agreement or bilateral social security agreements between IGAD member states in light of the provisions on the Draft IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. Up on completion of the assessment, a regional training workshop will be organized to share the findings and recommendations of the study with stakeholders and further initiate dialogue among member states on how ideals for extending social protection to migrant workers. In this context, the ILO is seeking the service of an international consultant to conduct the assessment and present the findings in a regional workshop.

2. Background

Social security is a basic human right enshrined in major international instruments such as the Declaration of Philadelphia (1944) which is an integral part of the Constitution of the International Labour Organization, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families (1990).

Although everyone has the right to social security, significant coverage gaps persist. Overall 71 per cent of the world population, including many migrant workers, lack access to comprehensive social protection. Migrants, as compared to nationals working their entire lives in one country, face legal and practical obstacles in exercising their right to social security and effectively accessing social protection benefits including health care. For instance, they may be denied access to social protection coverage in their host country because of their status, nationality, the insufficient duration of their periods of employment and residence or due to the lack of administrative and financial coordination between the social security schemes of their home and host country. Their access to social protection may further be curtailed due to a lack of information about their rights and obligations as well as other linguistic and cultural barriers. Furthermore, women migrant workers face multiple discriminations accessing social protection and are at higher risk of exploitation and abuse including sexual and gender-based violence[1].

However, there are several policy options for extending social protection coverage to migrant workers and their families through the conclusion of bilateral or multi-lateral social security agreements.

  • The conclusion of social security agreements is one of the most commonly used measures worldwide to ensure the coordination of social security schemes and the portability of social security entitlements and benefits across countries. Social security agreements are treaties that coordinate the social security schemes of two or more countries to eliminate, or at least reduce, the barriers to coverage migrant workers often encounter. Most social security agreements are bilateral, involving only two countries. However, there are several examples of multilateral agreements involving more than two countries. Multilateral or regional agreements are concluded between three or more parties and have the advantage of setting common standards and rules for coordination in all the state parties, while bilateral agreements can be easier and faster to conclude.
    Bilateral and multilateral agreements are not mutually exclusive, can be pursued in parallel and can be complementary. Since the aim of concluding social security agreements is primarily to enhance migrant workers’ social protection, the choice between pursuing a bilateral or multilateral agreement should be based on the best interests of migrant workers and their families with respect to social protection. Social security agreements that are well designed and effectively implemented, can contribute significantly to realizing the right to social security for all.

In Africa, in 2012, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states adopted the General Convention on Social Security[2] as a Supplementary Act to the Revised ECOWAS Treaty (1993). This meant that the Convention did not require ratification by ECOWAS member states. The Convention replaces all social security conventions previously concluded between ECOWAS member states with the exception of the bilateral or multilateral agreements that are more advantageous than the Convention. The Convention is based on ILO Conventions No.118 and No.157, the ECOWAS Treaty and its Protocol on Free Movement of Persons (1993), the Right of Residence and Establishment (1979) and its supplementary protocols, as well as the African Union Migration Policy Framework for Africa. The Convention applies to migrant workers who are nationals of one of the member states, refugees or stateless persons who have acquired social security rights in the territory of an ECOWAS member state and are residents; and family members and survivors of the migrant workers. The Convention covers all nine social security branches and includes all the key social security principles: and further established the Committee of Experts on Social Security and foresees a dispute resolution mechanism among ECOWAS member states as to the interpretation or application of the convention.

Similarly, in March 2020, SADC Ministers responsible for Employment and Labour and Social Partners adopted the Guidelines on Portability of Social Security Benefits in SADC. Five SADC Member States (Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe) volunteered to pilot implementation of the Guidelines. While not a legally binding instruments, the Guidelines is informed by assessment studies, and regional dialogue and consultative processes led by the SADC Secretariat and international instruments including International Labour Standards and key ILO policy approaches to social protection for migrant workers and cover all key branches of social security. Additional information about multi-lateral social protection agreements could be found here.

Furthermore, provided that they are in line with international human rights instruments and international labour standards, bilateral labour agreements can also include provisions on the social protection of migrant workers and/or include reference to a separate social security agreement.

  • Unilateral measures are receiving increased attention worldwide from countries of origin and employment either to palliate the lack of social security agreements or to ensure a more universal and comprehensive social protection coverage of workers. Various unilateral measures can be considered by policymakers such as national policies and legislation that ensure equality of treatment between migrant workers and nationals, including national social protection floors as they represent a powerful tool for the extension of universal social protection or voluntary insurance mechanisms.**3.** Overall objective

  • To carry out an assessment of existing social security systems and examine the prospects for the conclusion of a sub-regional multilateral social security agreement or bilateral social security agreements between IGAD member states;

  • To propose concrete policy options to IGAD secretariat and its member states for extending social protection to migrant workers in the sub-region, including through unilateral measures of social protection.

4. Scope of the work

Specific objective 1: Take stock of relevant information on social security schemes and legal frameworks**

  • Review the existing legislative and policy framework governing social security in IGAD member states including national social protection floors
  • Collect and analyse available information on member states’ social security schemes by branch; existing restrictions to coverage based on nationality and/or residence; restrictions to payment of benefits abroad; minimum qualifying periods;
  • Identify and analyse existing bilateral or multilateral instruments among IGAD member states, including: history; material scope of application; personal scope of application; provisions, if any, regarding equality of treatment, export of benefits, legislation applicable, maintenance of rights in course of acquisition (totalization), and administrative assistance; and operative structure (decision-making bodies, consultation bodies, liaison offices).
  • Examine existing mechanisms and barriers to effective portability of benefits in the region.
  • Benchmark the findings against the ILO standards, relevant provisions of the draft IGAD protocol on free movement of persons and the experiences of other regional economic communities.

Specific objective 2: Assess the feasibility for extending social protection to migrant workers through a sub-regional social security agreement and/or bilateral social security agreements

  • Based on the information collected (specific objective 1) and interviews with key stakeholders from ministries of labour, ministries of foreign affairs, social security institutions, IGAD Secretariat and other relevant organizations, assess the feasibility for extending social protection to migrant workers through a sub-regional social security agreement and/or bilateral social security agreements.
  • A description of the legal and technical issues that could arise in the negotiation of an IGAD multilateral social security agreement (e.g., types of schemes within the region/between countries, legal frameworks and implications of multiple membership of some IGAD member states in different RECs).
  • An assessment of the factors for and against the conclusion of a multilateral social security agreement in IGAD (e.g. legal and policy frameworks – national, regional and international, administrative capacity of the social security institutions, extent of coverage of social insurance schemes, role of relevant legal and policy frameworks.
  • Policy recommendations for the development of a multilateral social security agreement in the region and/or bilateral social security agreements (including recommendation on the branches that should be included, the groups of migrant workers etc.) and
  • Policy options in terms of institutional frameworks/structures to be strengthened or set up for effective coordination of social security benefits within the region.

Specific objective 3: Propose unilateral measures of social protection tailored to each national context to palliate the absence of social security agreements.

  • Based on ILO Guide on Extending social protection to migrant workers, refugees and their families, and emerging good practices, identify for each member state existing unilateral measures of social protection and propose policy options for extending social protection to migrant workers and their families. Such options should address the needs of specific groups of migrant workers including domestic workers, seasonal agricultural migrant workers, migrant workers in an irregular situation and migrants working in the informal economy.

5. Required qualifications

  • At least 10 years of proven experience in the field of social insurance, social security and social protection;
  • At least five years of proven experience in drafting legal texts regarding international coordination of social security schemes through multilateral and/or bilateral agreements;
  • Proven experience in managing multi country research activities and providing consultancy services in the field of migration, social security and extending social security for migrant workers;
  • Sound knowledge/experience of social security systems in the Africa region in general and the IGAD region in particular is an added advantage.
  • Excellent report writing skills and ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing;
  • Excellent knowledge and understanding about labour migration dynamics in the IGAD region;
  • Good computer application skills including use zoom, skype, Microsoft teams and other teleconferencing applications, and tools;
  • Experience in working with UN agencies and multilateral organizations and institutions such as AU, IGAD and other Regional Economic Communities (RECs)

6. Deliverables

  • Inception report: the consultant will submit an inception report explaining his/her understanding of the assignment, outline of the report and work plan for review and comments by ILO, IGAD and other relevant stakeholders
  • Draft Assessment report: the consultant will submit a draft assessment report for review and comments of the ILO, IGAD and other stakeholders
  • Revised draft report: the consultant will submit a revised draft report incorporating comments and inputs;
  • Present the draft findings in a regional workshop: the consultant will present the revised draft report and serve as a resource person in the regional workshop that will be organized by ILO and IGAD
  • Revised final draft report: the consultant will submit a final revised version of the report incorporating comments and inputs from the workshop.

7. Management Arrangements

The consultant will work under the direct supervision of the Chief Technical Advisor of the FMPT project and receive technical guidance from DWT social protection specialists covering the IGAD region, ILO Labour migration Branch (MIGRANT) and Social protection Department (SOCPRO) in Geneva.

8. Time frame

The assignment is expected to be completed in four months period from the signing of the agreement.

[1] ILO Guide on “Extending social protection to migrant workers, refugees and their families” (ILO, 2021 forthcoming).

[2] ECOWAS: A Capacity Building toolkit, available at:

Social Protection for Migrant Workers and their families in ECOWAS States — Popular version. The ECOWAS General Convention on Social Security, available at:

How to apply:

  • Interested applicants should submit their technical and financial proposal in a separate email with the subject to “**application: Baseline study on extending social protection for migrant workers – Technical Proposal**” and “**application: Baseline study on extending social protection for migrant workers – financial Proposal**” to: latest by 13 August 2021, 5:00 pm East Africa time.
  • The proposal and all correspondences and documents related to the proposal shall be written in English;
  • All prices should be submitted in USD. If a proposal is submitted in a currency other than USD, the ILO will convert all prices in to USD using the UN official exchange rate at the date of application to facilitate comparison and evaluation


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