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National cash transfer responses to Covid-19: operational lessons learned for social protection system-strengthening and future shocks

Working papers

Written by Christy Lowe, Anna McCord, Rodolfo Beazley

Image credit:Presidencia del Consejo de Ministros del Perú Image license:CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This paper is part of a series: ‘Social protection response to Covid-19 and beyond: lessons learned for adaptive social protection’.

Before Covid-19, many countries were engaged in the process of strengthening core social protection systems and exploring ways to develop their shock-responsive capacity. However, these system-building efforts were still nascent in many low- and middle-income countries (LICs and MICs) and even in countries with more developed systems, maintaining and extending provision in response to a shock as vast, sudden and severe as Covid-19 represented a significant operational challenge.

This paper analyses the operational approaches that selected LIC and MIC governments took to maintain existing cash transfer provision and to deliver additional shock-responsive cash assistance during the pandemic in the year 2020. It combines a rapid literature review with case studies on government cash transfer provision during the crisis in four countries: Nigeria, Peru, Sri Lanka and Togo.

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About the series

This research project examines social protection measures adopted since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, with the aims of promoting policy learning and helping ensure countries are better equipped with inclusive, adaptive and sustainable social protection systems moving forward. Read the additional papers in the series here.