This paper, prepared for the 1st Annual Conference on Research and Capacity Building in the Economics of Social Protection, reports on early findings from a three-year research programme at ODI that explores where there can be synergies between agricultural growth policies and programmes on the one hand, and social protection policies and programmes on the other. It asks how poor people can best be supported to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities whilst at the same time being protected when their livelihoods are threatened by shocks and stresses. The research reported here draws on case studies from Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia. The evidence suggests that policy responses to risk in Africa have focused on shocks (drought, floods, injury, death) and whilst stresses (e.g. expenses linked to chronic illness or disability, chronic hunger and long term declines in soil and water quality) have been relatively
neglected. Responses to long-term stresses, especially in the context of HIV/AIDS, require very different measures, and include building assets, and/or improving access to them, and/or supporting / training beneficiaries to make the most of new assets. Interventions to reduce risk therefore require a more co-ordinated response between the agricultural and social protection sectors which address shocks and stresses simultaneously.
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