Moldova Report: Social Protection

The context for social protection policies in Moldova goes far beyond usual frameworks and is closely related with the phenomenon of demographic change (extremely low birth rate; rapid ageing) and migration. Ageing will add demands for substantial social and health care and providing affordable long-term care will be a major challenge.

Social cash transfers are being progressively shifted from a category based principle to means tested. Only 65 percent of the poorest 10 percent of the population are covered with social aid. Social services remain underdeveloped, fragmented and under-funded with in many cases no funding mechanisms or standards allowing costing and budgeting. Besides NGO services in major cities, usually funded by international donors, identification, social protection and reintegration services are lacking. Social aid and social services are not handled in a complementary manner and greater efforts must be made to promote the full participation of groups such as Roma, refugees, persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged communities.

The government initiated the reform of the residential childcare system in 2007. Since then the number of children in residential institutions has decreased by almost 40 percent to 6,900. However, the rate of child institutionalization still remains one of the highest in the region. The majority of these children are not orphans, and end up in residential care due to poverty. Over half are children with disabilities. Required progress in developing family support programmes and family substitute services is slow and the existing financial mechanisms do not encourage local authorities to invest in community-based support to the most vulnerable to prevent family separation of children. At the same time, services to reintegrate these children into families, schools and communities or to support families to keep these children at home are lacking.

Corporal punishment is traditionally deeply rooted in Moldova and violence, especially against women and children, continues to be present at school and in families. Corporal punishment is applied to 16 percent of babies less than one year old. By the age of 6 or 7, 57 percent of children have experienced beating. Recent legislation has outlawed domestic violence, but its implementation remains problematic for several reasons: the law still lacks implementation mechanisms, standards need to be developed and costing and budgeting are required. The prevalence of child labour is also high, at 18 percent of children aged 5 to 17. Most of them work in agriculture, often for their own families. Sexual exploitation of children is slowly emerging as an issue in Moldova. While cases of sexual exploitation of children by foreign tourists have attracted most of the attention, there are indications that the sexual exploitation of children by Moldovans is a hidden phenomenon.

Although a National Programme for the Development of an Integrated System of Social Services (2008-2012) has been adopted, communities have weak capacities for early identification of vulnerable children and families and addressing their needs. Cross referral of vulnerable children between sectors is often lacking, and inter-sectoral cooperation to develop adequate intervention plans is sporadic. UN should provide assistance to government in development and implementation of clear inter-sectoral cooperation mechanisms, to ensure that the rights of all children, especially the most vulnerable ones, are observed and their needs met.

The lack of reliable, systematic, disaggregated data will remain an issue to evaluate the needs for social protection services and social cash benefits, provide evidence for policy development at the national and local levels and measure the impact of those policies. Information from the population census 2013 will be crucial for addressing the challenges. The implementation of the population census will require UN support already in the preparation phase before 2013.
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