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Social protection in low income countries and fragile situations : challenges and future directions


  • Andrews, Colin
  • Das, Maitreyi
  • Elder, John
  • Ovadiya, Mirey
  • Zampaglione, Giuseppe


Demand for social protection is growing in low income countries and fragile situations. In recent years, the success of social protection (SP) interventions in middle income countries (MICs) like Brazil and Mexico, along with the series of food, fuel, and financial crises, has prompted policymakers in low income countries (LICs) and fragile situations (FSs) to examine the possibility of introducing such programs in their own countries. Flagship programs in countries as diverse as Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, and Rwanda have shown the adaptability of social protection interventions to the LIC context. Yet, despite growing levels of support for these initiatives, many challenges remain. In LICs and FSs, governments are confronted with a nexus of mutually reinforcing deficits that increase the need for SP programs and simultaneously reduce their ability to successfully respond. Governments face hard choices about the type, affordability, and sustainability of SP interventions. The paper reviews how these factors affect SP programs in these countries and identifies ways to address the deficits. It supports the establishment of resilient SP systems to address specific needs and vulnerabilities and to respond flexibly to both slow and sudden onset crises. To achieve this, both innovation and pragmatism are required in three strategic areas: (i) building the basic blocks of SP systems (e.g., targeting, payments, and monitoring and evaluation); (ii) ensuring financial sustainability; and (iii) promoting good governance and transparency. These issues suggest the possibility of a different trajectory in the development of social protection in LICs than in MICs. The implications for World Bank support include the need to focus on increasing knowledge and operational effectiveness of SP programs, fostering institutional links between multiple SP programs, and using community capacity and technological innovations to overcome bottlenecks in operations.

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  • Andrews, Colin & Das, Maitreyi & Elder, John & Ovadiya, Mirey & Zampaglione, Giuseppe, 2012. "Social protection in low income countries and fragile situations : challenges and future directions," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 67607, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:67607

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barrientos, Armando & Nino-Zarazua, Miguel, 2010. "Social Assistance in Developing Countries Database Version 5.0," MPRA Paper 20001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Isabel Ortiz & Jingqing Chai & Matthew Cummins, 2011. "Escalating Food Prices: The threat to poor households and policies to safeguard a Recovery for All," Working papers 1101, UNICEF,Division of Policy and Strategy.
    3. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Tiwari, Sailesh & Zaman, Hassan, 2011. "Can we rely on cash transfers to protect dietary diversity during food crises ? estimates from Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5548, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. DiCaprio, Alisa, 2013. "The Demand Side of Social Protection: Lessons from Cambodia’s Labor Rights Experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 108-119.
    2. Umapathi, Nithin & Wang, Dewen & O'Keefe, Philip, 2013. "Eligibility thresholds for minimum living guarantee programs : international practices and implications for China," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 83118, The World Bank.
    3. Domelen, Julie van, 2012. "Togo : towards a national social protection policy and strategy," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 89000, The World Bank.
    4. World Bank, 2012. "Resilience, Equity, and Opportunity
      [Capacidad de recuperación, equidad y oportunidades]
      ," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12648, The World Bank.
    5. Robalino, David A. & Weber, Michael, 2013. "Designing and implementing unemployment benefit systems in middle and low income countries : key choices between insurance and savings accounts," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 90348, The World Bank.
    6. Cerutti, Paula & Fruttero, Anna & Grosh, Margaret & Kostenbaum, Silvana & Oliveri, Maria Laura & Rodriguez-Alas, Claudia & Strokova, Victoria, 2014. "Social assistance and labor market programs in Latin America : methodology and key findings from the social protection database," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 88769, The World Bank.
    7. Robalino, David & Margolis, David & Rother, Friederike & Newhouse, David & Lundberg, Mattias, 2013. "Youth employment : a human development agenda for the next decade," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 83925, The World Bank.
    8. Dorfman, Mark & Palacios, Robert, 2012. "World Bank support for pensions and social security," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 70925, The World Bank.

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    Safety Nets and Transfers; Social Risk Management; National Governance; Emerging Markets; Banks&Banking Reform;

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