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Responding to a crisis: the design and delivery of social protection

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Francesca Bastagli

One of the main objectives of social protection is to help households cope with adverse events, including shocks that affect entire communities or large parts of a country’s population at the same time, known as covariate shocks. Its effectiveness in such contexts hinges on its timeliness, adaptability and adequacy in terms of financial resources. A recent ODI study examines the policy design and implementation details that facilitate the scale-up of social protection in the event of a covariate shock as well as the financing mechanisms and planning initiatives to promote shock-responsive social protection.The main policy implications emerging from the study are:

  • Countries with formal social protection schemes are better equipped to respond to shocks than countries without them.

  • The three main challenges to shock-responsive social protection are: lack of policy flexibility and adaptive capacity, inadequate financing for rapid scale-up and weak preparedness.

  • Having a system in place that can be expanded and adapted to accommodate increased need is critical to effective social protection provision in the event of a shock.

  • Looking ahead, shock preparedness has much to gain from strengthened integration of social protection, humanitarian response and disaster risk reduction interventions.

Francesca Bastagli