Enhancing the teaching capacity of lecturers of the Royal University of Bhutan in Social Protection

From November 20 – December 1, 2017, core SPRI associates organised and facilitated a two-week “Training of the Trainers” course on social policy and social protection, together with Thammasat University, Bangkok and with UNICEF Bhutan. The two weeks seminar programme was organised in Bangkok with the support of the faculty of Social Policy and Social Administration – Social Policy and Development at Thammasat University, of the Faculty of Social Policy Certificate Programme at the Royal University of Bhutan, and of UNICEF Bhutan and UNICEF ROSA.


From left (top row): Dr. Prapaporn Tivayanond Mongkhonvanit (SPD/Thammasat University), Mr. Sonam Dendup (Sherubtse College),   Mr. Jamba Tobden (Sherubtse College), Mr. Leki Sangay (Sherubtse College), Mr. Peljor Galay (Sherubtse College), Mr. Ugyen Lhendup (Sherubtse College), Ms. Julia Karpati (SPRI/Tilburg University). From left (bottom row): Dr. Victor P. Karunan (SPRI/Thammasat University), Prof. Dr. Kovit Phong-ngam (Thammasat University), Prof. Dr. Chris de Neubourg (SPRI). Not pictured: Nesha Ramful (SPRI/Tilburg University). 

Participating members were lecturers and administrators from Sherubtse College of the Royal University of Bhutan. These lecturers and administrators organise a basic course in social policy and social protection for civil servants and Members of Parliament every year. They invited SPRI to facilitate lectures, discuss their teaching programme and to discuss with them the newest insights and ideas in social protection.

The schedule of the seminar programme spanned two weeks, and covered the following areas:

  • Main elements of social policy – equity and social inclusion, health, education, social protection, social services, and their interrelations
  • Poverty concepts  and measurement – monetary and multidimensional poverty, well-being, and happiness; measurement using various units of analysis
  • Policy processes including case studies from Thailand and other countries
  • Social protection concepts and instruments
  • Mapping the social protection system in Bhutan – identifying risks and vulnerabilities, social policy tools which address and correct these, along with gaps in delivery, services and programmes
  • Public finance for social policy
  • Principles of contributory social protection interventions
  • Social budgeting including simulation exercises
  • Civil Society Organisation and social policy
  • Policy administration and implementation
  • Evaluations including practical exercises for further delivery of teaching to course participants in Bhutan



In addition to seminar lectures and in-depth discussions, participants were also presented specific cases of the policy process in Thailand, as well as social protection policies and programmes in Thailand, including field visits with senior officials of the National Economic and Social Development Board, Royal Government of Thailand, and with representatives and beneficiaries of Thailand’s Child Support Grant (CSG) Programme (Child Support Grant Operational Centre/DCY-MSDHS).

The ambassador of the Kingdom of Bhutan joined us at the diploma ceremony at the end of two weeks course, delivering his perspective on the future of social policy and social protection in Bhutan, and to present the certificates of completion to the course participants. Pictured above and below are images from the certificate ceremony.

SPRI was honoured to have been a part of this multilateral effort, and is looking forward to continue our collaboration with the colleagues of Bhutan in partnership with Thammasat University in Bangkok.  Beyond the scope of the programme itself, members of SPRI were engaged in mutual learning. Course participants from the Royal University of Bhutan discussed at great length the salient social policy issues in Bhutan, and the tools that are currently at their disposal for building effective social protection systems in the context of Bhutan’s specific vulnerabilities. Members of SPRI came away from the course with lessons from Bhutan on, among others, effective, responsible and sustainable multi-level governance as a vital tool for effective design and delivery of social services. We endeavour to continue our learning from our colleagues.

In the following days we will update our website with further lessons from and reflections on the two weeks spent in and outside of the classroom with our Bhutanese and Thai colleagues.

Working with the National Institute of Statistics in Angola

During missions in October and December, SPRI staff worked with specialists of the Angolan National Institute of Statistics (NIS) to estimate multidimensional Child Poverty in all its aspects using MODA (Multidimensional Overlapping Deprivation Analysis). During the first mission we discussed the multidimensional poverty concepts and decided on the indicators and thresholds to be used in the child poverty analysis in Angola. During the second mission, SPRI gave hands-on instructions on estimating multidimensional child poverty to the NIS-experts of Luanda. UNICEF, NIS and SPRI will continue their collaboration to publish reports on the deprivation of children in Angola in all its aspects. The research results should enable the government and the international community to get a better understanding of the characteristics of all aspect of child poverty in order to equip them better to fight child poverty and increase investment in children from early childhood to adolescence.


Pictured: The national statistical office of Angola.

New SPRI Affiliated Publication: Violence Against Children in the Asia Pacific Region

New SPRI affiliated publication in Violence Against Children by Victor Karunan on children in the Asia Pacific Region!

Violence Against Children adopts in its title the exhortation of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, “Making Human Rights Real,” which also represents the leitmotif of the book. It examines the prevalence of violence against children in Africa, the Asia Pacific Region, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and in the United States, and explores major ways of its prevention. Making human rights real engenders the challenge of helping all children to be free from violence and to lead a life replete with genuine nurture and the elimination of all violence. Only in this manner will the goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development —target 16.2—be achieved and the child as a rights-bearing individual realized in her/his fullness.

The specially commissioned chapters that make up the volume have been written by renowned scholars, researchers and advocates. They coalesce to provide an overview of the challenges facing children exposed to violence worldwide, and they advance discussions of the measures which are available and necessary for the prevention of violence against children. The book is intended for policy-makers, researchers and students of the social sciences and human rights who are interested in ending all the widespread maltreatment of children in our societies and our time.


SPRI at APPAM Chicago

We gave two presentations at the conference: 1. “Improving measurement of children’s well-being: Lifecycle needs and context in focus”; and 2. “Child poverty measurement and monitoring in the context of SDGs 1.1 and 1.2”.

The first research paper assesses the adequacy of the most commonly used surveys for measurement of multidimensional child poverty and deprivation in middle-income countries. We specifically analyze the compatibility of indicators available in MICS, DHS, and other household and child and youth surveys in Thailand, Morocco, and Kosovo with these countries’ contexts and life-cycle needs of children depending on their age.

In the second paper, we compare different multidimensional child poverty methodologies in the context of SDG 1.1 and 1.2 measurement. The paper focuses especially on target 1.2 and establishing an official measure of multidimensional child poverty that is child-centered, uses a life-cycle approach, and is contextualized.

The poster presentations are available here:

Social Policy Research Institute(SPRI)_Improving measurement of children’s well-being, Lifecycle needs and context in focus_PosterPresentation_APPAMChicago

Social Policy Research Institute(SPRI)_Child poverty measurement and monitoring in the context of SDGs 1.1 & 1.2_PosterPresentation_APPAMChicago


Capacity-building in Swaziland : A close partnership between the government, UNICEF and SPRI

During the first week of October, 2017, SPRI-members conducted a technical training in Swaziland on multidimensional poverty with experts from the Central Statistical Office, UNICEF, Ministry of Economic Planning & Development, and other governmental stakeholders. The training was part of a long-term national capacity building in an effort to tackle non-monetary poverty in Swaziland in accordance to the Sustainable Development Goal 1.2.

Participants were introduced to the basics of the MODA (Multidimensional Overlapping Deprivation Analysis) methodology and learned how to carry out a multidimensional poverty study by using the statsitical software, STATA. Throughout the training, they created contextualized parameters of child deprivation, based on Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 5 data, with the purpose of identifying the most vulnerable children in Swaziland. Additionally, participants studied the results and together we discussed the main conclusions of the conducted analysis.

group photo 2 swaziland.jpg

Policy workshop on Multidimensional Child Poverty in Swaziland

On October 10, 2017, a policy workshop took place in Ezulwini, Swaziland, where SPRI team members – Nesha Ramful, Liên Boon and Victor Cebotari, in partnership with colleagues from the Ministry of Economic Planning & Development, and UNICEF, discussed and validated the final results of the country’s Multidimensional Child Poverty analysis. The audience of the workshop consisted of senior officials from key governmental institutions in Swaziland. Together, SPRI and its partners reflected on the results and discussed implications for policy and practice. The workshop fueled the interest and commitment from all participants to take further actions and reduce the multidimensional child poverty in Swaziland according to the Sustainable Development Goal 1.2.

MODA for updating the Situation des enfants et des femmes de Guinée report… our mission in Conakry in a Snap!

After travelling a total of more than 20h, Liên Boon and I got to Conakry where we held hands-on training sessions for members of the Laboratoire d’Analyse Socio Anthropologique de Guinée (LASAG) of the public University of Sonfonia.

Our work built on the previous visits of our team members where the concepts forming the base of our analyses were laid. The activities were organised around equipping our trainees with the necessary skills for translating concepts into a full-fledged child multidimensional poverty analysis. Participants to the training were taught how to organise and analyse large databases using the Stata software and interpret the resulting analyses.


The participants to the sessions had extensive knowledge of the local context, through their regular field research, which led to a very rich collaboration. Overall, the trainees shined by their motivation and determination in learning and mastering the tools. We are both really looking forward to being back in Guinée to further consolidate national capacities.

The training sessions were held as part of supporting activities SPRI members are delivering to the national Unicef office for building national capacities in maintaining up-to-date programming and advocacy information. Using a child centred approach, the MODA method is being applied to Guinée’s MICS2016 nationally representative dataset as one of the inputs to the SitAn. For more information, consult our Projects description section or contact us directly.IMG-20171103-WA0000[1].jpg

In Cotonou for the Étude de Référence sur les Indicateurs de Performance de ARCH

As part of the inception of the Reference study on ARCH’s (Programme d’Assurance pour le Renforcement du Capital Humain) performance indicators, Chris de Neubourg and I were on mission in Bénin.

Our agenda led us to meeting key public and private sector actors when it comes to the current provision of services related to the programme’s foreseen four interventions, namely: health insurance, micro-credit, training and retirement insurance.

By the end of our intense days on the roads of Cotonou to Abomey, we got a strong sense of the current social protection environment, secured access to existing M&E reports and other relevant documentation, and finally presented our research methodology and project milestones to the project’s Comité de Pilotage.

The Reference study on ARCH’s performance indicators is a study commissioned by the BAI (Bureau d’Analyse et d’Investigation) of the Presidency of the Republic of Bénin and the UNICEF Country Office. For more details on the project, please consult our Projects directory or directly contact us.


Child Poverty in Kenya – A Multidimensional Approach

It was a pleasure to support UNICEF Kenya and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in producing the CHILD POVERTY IN KENYA report, which will be published in December of this year.

It is the first of its kind in Kenya and is being launched at a crucial development juncture, just before the design and development of the Third Medium Term Plan (2018–2022) of Vision 2030 and following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda. The child poverty report presents the findings of multidimensional child deprivation analysis based on the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey. This is the first study of its kind to incorporate a qualitative research component. Breastfeeding mothers, parents, teachers, nurses, doctors, community health workers, and county sector heads in Turkana, Kakamega, and Kitui were interviewed during August 2016 to give a voice to the quantitative research findings.

Helping children avoid poverty and overcome its damaging effects will make a huge difference not only to their lives but also to the lives of their families, communities and ultimately their country. The evidence of child deprivation from this study provides a strong opportunity for concerted, comprehensive responses targeting not only social services but also interventions to address the plight of children unable to realize their rights and fulfill their basic needs.

In the context of SDGs, the study is also very timely to provide Kenya with critical baseline information for monitoring the SDGs 1 and 10. The design of the Kenya Medium Term Plan III and the next County Integrated Development Plans and other sectoral strategies will benefit greatly from the evidence and deep analysis of child poverty based on nonmonetary indicators presented in this report


SPRI at International Conferences

Members of the SPRI team recently presented research papers during the ISCI conference in Montreal (International Society for Child Indicators), the APPAM conference in Brussels (Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management) and the ISI World Statistics conference in Marrakech (International Statistical Society).

Future presentations are planned in Chicago (Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management) and Bonn (Institute of Labor Economics). Conferences represent an excellent opportunity for SPRI scholars to present their own work, but also to engage with new ideas and seek opportunities to collaborate with fellow researchers from around the globe. The conference sessions are also used to sharpen our own views and enlarge our perspective, as we leverage peer learning to improve our analytical capacity.

Links to the presentations and paper abstracts are found here and here.