Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Social protection and forcibly displaced people: a literature review

Literature reviews

Written by Amanda Gray Meral, Nathalie Both

Image credit:UN Photo/Sahem Rababah Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Social protection is an increasingly important component of low- and middle-income countries’ poverty reduction and social policy strategies. The vast majority of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), including 85% of the world’s refugees, are found in these same low- and middle-income countries. However, forcibly displaced populations are typically excluded from state social protection, and are more often served by internationally financed humanitarian programmes that are often short-term and unsustainable.

This literature review sits as a part of a wider project that aims to better understand effective mechanisms for the integration of social protection programmes and humanitarian assistance. It addresses three overarching research questions:

  1. What is the evidence of alignment/integration of humanitarian cash with state social assistance programmes in forced displacement contexts, or on the inclusion of forcibly displaced populations in state systems, in protracted situations?
  2. How do national policy-makers and international or national humanitarian and development actors decide how and to what extent to align/integrate with state social protection systems for the host population, or to include forcibly displaced populations in state programmes?
  3. What does the evidence say about the effects of alignment/inclusion in forced displacement contexts on outcomes for refugees, IDPs and hosts? The outcomes covered by the review are social cohesion between forced displaced people and host populations, economic agency and the protection/well-being of the displaced.

The paper also reviews existing literature that considers implications for equity, costs and efficiency of national social protection systems and implications for overall accountability and adaptability.