“Mother, you shall not fear as long as your sons live in Germany” goes a popular folk song in Kosovo. Its equivalent in Bosnia and Herzegovina says “I am from Bosnia, take me to America” and in Albania the most famous morning show goes by the motto “Love your country, like Albania loves America”. In these countries, migration and remittances are synonyms of economic prosperity in the homeland. More than 40 percent of the population of these countries lives and works abroad for decades, and regularly sends money to their families back home. Remittance inflows in 2018 are estimated to range from $1.3 to $2.3 billion in these countries, exceeding foreign direct investment and accounting for 10 to 16 percent of the GDP.
It’s not so long since the days when speaking of ‘universal health coverage’ used to provoke shockwaves. Happily, the principle that “… everyone having access to the health care they need without suffering financial hardship” is now widely recognized and documented. And although few countries have achieved this goal in practice, it is clearly within reach, including in low-income countries like Rwanda.
Social protection seems to be on a similar trajectory, with universality now enshrined in commitments and declarations. Yet the provision of universal social protection (USP) is hotly contested — take the debates around Universal Basic Income and Employment Guarantee Programs.