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Social protection response to Covid-19 and beyond: emerging evidence and learning for future crises

Working paper

Written by Francesca Bastagli, Christy Lowe

Image credit:Photo: World Bank / Henitsoa Rafalia

The Covid-19 crisis has brought social protection to the forefront as a crisis response tool. It has also exposed social protection gaps and limitations. Some of the population groups most adversely affected by the crisis – women, informal workers, urban dwellers, refugees – are also those excluded from or underserved by social protection.

Social protection measures adopted since the onset of the crisis include efforts to address coverage and adequacy gaps, at least in the short term. These shed light on the policy design and implementation features that enable, or conversely hinder, timely and adequate crisis response. They also hold potential for learning and addressing gaps and constraints in the longer term for social protection policy and system strengthening.

If the Covid-19 crisis and social protection crisis response to date are to make a difference to progress towards inclusive, adaptive and sustainable social protection moving forward, harnessing the momentum around social protection and institutionalising learning to date are key. This paper aims to contribute to such efforts. With a focus on some of the population groups most adversely affected by the crisis and on measures adopted in low- and middle-income countries in the early months from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and within the first year, it provides new evidence on social protection crisis response effectiveness and identifies emerging policy lessons to help ensure countries are better prepared for future crises. This is the framing and synthesis paper of the ODI study on Social protection response to Covid-19 and beyond.

Corrections and clarifications

Published online: 7 July 2021. Updated online: 9 July. Figure 3 and its associated discussion were amended to reflect that the Republic of Congo data was based on refugee households, not individuals.