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Shock-responsive social protection systems: literature review


Written by Francesca Bastagli, Simon Levine


In a joint publication with Oxford Policy Management (OPM), this document reviews recent literature on the theory and practice of shock-responsive social protection initiatives and their effectiveness. Part of a two-year research programme, the review will be updated during the implementation phase in the light of ongoing publications by other research organisations and donor agencies.

The authors have reviewed over 400 papers including peer-reviewed journal papers and open-access documents issued by donor agencies and research organisations. The study is global; however, region- and country-specific literature centres on the three focal regions, namely the Sahel, eastern and southern Africa, and Asia.

The review summarises the evidence as to why social protection – and particularly social transfers – is conceptually appealing as a vehicle for moving forward with this vision. At its core, social protection is a risk management tool for households and individuals. Social transfer programmes are growing in coverage and form the foundation of emerging social protection systems in crisis-affected countries. They have similar administration requirements to humanitarian programmes that transfer cash and food. Providing assistance during crises through these systems also allows national governments to take responsibility for meeting needs within their territory and a medium-term exit strategy for humanitarian aid.

Francesca Bastagli, Simon Brook, Joanna Buckley, Cécile Cherrier, Jenny Congrave, Andrew Kardan, Simon Levine, Katie McIntosh, Clare O'Brien, Clara Richards, Gabrielle Smith and Zoë Scott.