Social services are part of the DNA of many posts in various regions and with differing income levels, yet operators are often underutilized for social development, said Susan Alexander, Postal Regulation and UN Policies Expert.Whether fighting poverty and inequality or supporting an ageing population, and meeting the needs of an increasingly mobile society, posts have a role to play.
That is why the UPU launched its Guide to Postal Social Services, part of a study to explore how posts provide social services and how they can expand into this arena.
The study identified 435 examples of social services from 160 UPU members, some of which are included in the guide as a means to motivate and support posts.
“Providing this broad overview should help to raise awareness within the postal sector of the broad social value of its activities, to increase the visibility of the post to social development actors, and it can be used to support advocacy work and negotiations with government,” Alexander said.
The guide also highlights the steps posts need to take when expanding into social services, including establishing a resilient business model, managing new risks, and supporting postal workers.
An important challenge is balancing ambition with capacity, she said. Securing investment can be key to establishing services.
“We are keen to encourage government ministries, charities and international agencies to invest in the post as an efficient way for them to achieve their social development goals,” Alexander said.
For example, the postal network could be adapted to store and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, to manage vaccination data, and to implement associated public information campaigns.
“We are hopeful that there will be a broad transition from posts simply supporting social development actors, such as governments and charities,” she said, “to posts becoming key drivers of social development.”