In the week of April 17-21, 2022, a research team from SPRI Global facilitated a series of workshops and consultative meetings in Male, Maldives, towards the validation of key findings and conclusions deriving from an analysis of the social sector in Maldives.

These workshops and meetings were a part of SPRI Global’s work on a comprehensive assessment of the social sector in Maldives in support of UNICEF Maldives and the Ministry of Gender Family and Social Services (MoGFSS). The SPRI Global research team consists of Prof. Dr. Chris de Neubourg and senior researchers, Julia Karpati, Erëblina Elezaj and Patrick Llewellin.

Team leader, Prof. Dr. Chris de Neubourg, presenting the key findings and conclusions of the Social Sector Assessment at the validation workshop in Male, Maldives on 18th of May, 2022

The outputs of the workshops build on the data collection and exploratory research carried out since late 2021. In November of 2021, the SPRI Global research team carried out in-depth consultations with stakeholders in the social sector to gain a deeper understanding of the context, functions and challenges within the sector. Additional data collection between November, 2021 – April, 2022 was carried out in partnership with researchers of Villa College, led by Dr. Ahmed Shahid and Dr. Fazeela Ibrahim, and covered a survey with the social service workforce, a survey with representatives of island councils, focus group discussions with caregivers and youth in three regions, and key informant interviews with non-governmental social service providers and advocacy organizations and related stakeholders in social service administration and provision.

SPRI Global senior researcher, Ms. Julia Karpati, presenting gaps, challenges, and bottlenecks in social service delivery in Maldives, based on research carried out since November 2021. Also pictured are SPRI Global senior researcher, Ms. Erëblina Elezaj (first row, center table, first from left), UNICEF Maldives Deputy Representative, Mr. Paulo Sassarao (second from left), Minister of State for Gender, Family and Social Services, Mr. Mohamed Shihab (third from left), and UNICEF Maldives Country Representative, Ms. Marjan Montazemi

The validation workshop presented our major findings in the social sector assessment, including key challenges and bottlenecks in the social sector. The workshops were organized around the central themes of i) social services; ii) social protection, and iii) determinants of vulnerabilities and risks in Maldives through an equity-focused, gender-sensitive, and rights-based lens, taking into account differences between Male and other islands in the country. Workshop participants included representatives of the MOGFSS, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, the Local Government Authority, Prosecutor General’s Office, Children’s Ombudspersons’ Office, UNICEF, UNDP, social workers, and representatives of other key government sectors.

Workshop participants discussing recommendations for improving social service delivery, including members of the National Social Protection Agency and UNICEF Deputy Representative, Mr. Paulo Sassarao

Workshop participants actively engaged in multi- and cross-sectoral discussions of the results and of possible interventions to address the challenges, bottlenecks, and gaps in the system. The discussions were organized in smaller teams, consisting of representatives of different institutions, organisations, and sectors, to discuss concrete actions to address specific challenges. The groups presented these recommendations and suggestions in plenary sessions.

The validation of findings as well as additional input from key stakeholders will contribute towards the finalization of the Social Sector Assessment Report, as well as the development of a Social Sector Master Plan in the next stages of the assignment.

Workshop participants presenting their recommendations for interventions and actions to remediate gaps, challenges, and bottlenecks in social service delivery

The SPRI Global team is grateful for the collaborative efforts of all key stakeholders and workshop attendees in supporting this important work towards strengthening the social service sector in Maldives.