Recent Developments in the Role and Design of Social Protection Programmes

Type Journal Article - International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth
Title Recent Developments in the Role and Design of Social Protection Programmes
Volume 25
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
This issue of Poverty in Focus brings a set of articles that discuss some of the recent developments and innovations in the social protection area in developing countries. Most invited authors were presenters at the Policy Dialogue, Expert Workshop and South-South Learning Event organised by IPC-IG with the support of AusAID, the Secretariat of Strategic Affairs and the Institute for Applied Economic Research of the Brazilian Government in December 2012. The workshop was an opportunity to bring together policymakers, researchers and practitioners from developing countries as well as representatives from different multilateral organisations to discuss social protection innovations from three perspectives: a) an informative perspective to foster and support the dialogue and cooperation between policymakers from different countries; b) an analytical perspective focusing on the evidence of the impact of social protection programmes; and c) a learning perspective in which researchers and policymakers could strengthen the learning process and share their thoughts on the knowledge gaps in this area. Social protection mechanisms in many developing countries have been tested by the food and fuel price crises and the global financial crisis. Countries that have developed comprehensive social protection interventions before the crises seem to have been able to avoid the worst effects. Social protection programmes were quickly adapted through a variety of mechanisms. In Latin America, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programmes, which were considered by some experts as an inappropriate tool to handle a crisis situation, proved to be a flexible way to expand and smooth the consumption of both traditional and new beneficiaries. Countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Chile were able to respond quickly to this challenge with new components to their flagship programmes. In Indonesia, a completely different setting from Latin America, the response was through a temporary unconditional cash transfer (BLT) previously used in the 2005?06 fuel subsidy reform and that was quickly put in place to counteract the effect of the 2008?09 crisis. Many countries have consolidated several instruments or strategies that allow for broader interventions that go beyond the ?flagship? programmes. These instruments?specially interlinked beneficiary databases and/or single registries for targeted social policies?are powerful tools to improve intersectoral coordination and national and local-level policy coordination, as shown in some experiences reported in this publication. Traditional social protection mechanisms such as social pensions and child/family allowances are gaining ground in many developing countries as part of their national social protection floors. This issue of Poverty in Focus provides an overview of the recent expansion of old-age pensions in Asia and looks more closely at the reforms that are taking place in Thailand and at the poverty and inequality impacts of the Old-age Pension in South Africa. In Latin America, countries with consolidated social pensions such as Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Brazil have implemented important reforms in their child/family allowance benefits to fight child poverty. In Peru financial inclusion of CCT beneficiaries, particularly women, has become a central objective of the programmes. Using a flagship programme and its mechanisms as a way to improve the access of the most excluded has become a key concern of many interventions in the regions such as the ?Brasil without extreme poverty? plan and the Chilean Ethical Family Income?also presented in this issue. However, the challenge to match an increased demand for social services with their supply is also highlighted. In India, the JSY programme, which has been successful in stimulating institutional delivery, faces major problems on the supply side. In Africa, national governments have implemented both social pensions and child grants. A heated debate on the dependency issue has made evidence on the productive impact of social transfers a much-needed input to this discussion. Some evidence of positive impacts of social transfers at the level of the household and the local economy is also presented in this issue. The productive dimension of social protection intervention and its growth-friendly features are also discussed when focusing on its interlinkages with employment. The NREGA in India and EPWP in South Africa are key examples of how recent innovations in public works and employment guarantee schemes can improve the impact of this much criticised type of intervention. Similarly, a reform of PDS in one India state has helped not only to improve beneficiary coverage, but also to foster the productive inclusion of smallholder farmers. We hope you find the reading useful?

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