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Like most of the rest of the world, St. Kitts and Nevis has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially given its reliance on tourism for both contributions to the economy and to employment. There has been an expansion in social protection service provision in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) and a food voucher programme playing especially important roles . Lessons learned from the response to the Covid-19 pandemic highlight the critical role social protection plays in the national emergency response and the importance of social protection in post-pandemic recovery, including strengthening household resilience and skills relevant for the emergent labour market.

St. Kitts and Nevis ranked 76th among 188 countries and territories tracked in using the human development index , while the country is considered as a high human development country and a high income small island developing state .

Development in St. Kitts and Nevis is still guided by the 2006-2013 National Adaptation Strategy (NAS), which served as Government’s blueprint for economic transformation following the closure of the sugar industry in 2005. The NAS is built around three pillars:

1. Economic Development and Enhanced Livelihoods

2. Inclusive Social Development

3. Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Development

A National Development Plan is currently being prepared (delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic) which is expected to reflect Government’s continued commitment to these three pillars within the broader framework of an increased focus on climate change resilience.

Accordingly, the adoption of this Social Protection Policy and associated Plan of Action are reliant upon a report resulting from Consultation among stakeholders including representatives of Civil Society.

Over the two-day period of May 11th and 12th, 2021, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) joined other departments and ministries in the process, under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Development, which was held at the Conference Room at the Customs and Excise Department, Bird Rock.

The Social Protection Policy seeks to build on the 2013 National Social Protection Strategy and is intended to help Government finalise and pass the Social Protection Bill as an update to the 1998 Social Development Assistance Act.

According to the aligned Consultants, the Policy and the Action Plan signify an important step towards strengthening a rights-based approach to social protection, progress towards Universal Social Protection, and advancing towards a stronger shock-responsive, gender-sensitive and child-friendly social protection system.