Category Archives: Social Protection

Introducing basic social protection in low-income countries: lessons from existing programmes

Authors: Barrientos,A.Produced by: Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester (2007)

This paper reviews tax-financed social assistance through transfers in kind or cash in low-income countries. Such assistance is often constrained by path dependence at a micro level due to fragmentation of programmes and the presence of attached constituencies. Important factors for the sustainability of social protection programmes are:

<political support or at least the absence of significant opposition -often induced by exogenous factors such as the intervention of donors and NGOs, cross-national policy transfers led by donors and regional bodies domestic policy learning.

perceived opposition to government policies or social unrest urging policy makers to counteract;Social protection can contribute to the development process by:

  • reducing poverty and associated costs
  • helping overcome inefficiencies associated with missing or imperfect markets
  • facilitating investment in human capital
  • lifting cash and credit constraints
  • protecting people and assets against sudden or random hazards

    However, there is only limited evidence regarding the quality and strength of these effects. Local economy multiplier effects have not been proved, but there is also no sign of rising prices induced by social assistance. This is likely to be due to the programmes’ very low level of coverage.

    Financing is a key constraint on the development of social protection. Most programmes are financed by donors, which however, exhibit a preference for short-term aid. This leaves national governments in low-income countries with worries about medium and long term fiscal liabilities and strategic positioning vis-…-vis donors. The medium and long run sustainability of social protection programmes will therefore rely on the tax collection capacity of domestic governments.

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    Filed under Development, Food Security, Poverty, Social Protection

    A vicious circle of misery – food prices and chronic hunger

    In El Salvador’s markets, the buzz of bargaining once echoed in the narrow streets as ordinary people tried to stretch their meagre budgets and fill their families’ stomachs for another day.

    Now, anger and silence have overtaken the marketplace, as the price of the most basic staples – rice, corn, flour, beans – has rocketed out of reach, and those who once barely stood their ground are falling through the floor of poverty to its basement: dependence on handouts from international donors.

    “People are stunned. And it’s not just the poor and hungry buyers. It’s the small merchants themselves,” says Trevor Rowe, a World Food Program spokesperson for Latin America.

    “They’re bearing the brunt of the consumers’ complaints, and they have a hard time justifying the high costs. It’s a brutal situation for everyone. In the rural part of the country the calorie intake was already low. Now people are plunged into chronic hunger.”

    El Salvador is not alone. Throughout the world, the working poor, and even the middle class, have been pushed into poverty by soaring food costs. International aid organizations and charities are faced with a crisis that is unprecedented in the last half century. Continue reading

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    Filed under Aid, Food Security, Inflation, International Aid, International NGOs, Poverty, Social Protection, World

    Global food prices rise and famine increases

    By Barry Mason

    The United Nations body World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the rise in global food prices will reduce its ability to feed hungry and malnourished people.

    Speaking last month in Rome, where the WFP is based, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said, “Our ability to reach people is going down just as needs go up…. We are seeing a new face of hunger in which people are being priced out of the food market…. Situations that were previously not urgent—they are now.”

    In a press release, the WFP gave a new estimate for the funds needed for its work this year at nearly US$3.5 billion, half a billion more than estimated last year. This money is for approved projects to feed 73 million people in 78 countries throughout the world. It notes that this money is for projected feeding schemes and does not include unforeseen emergencies that may arise.

    It also notes that the poorest people on earth will have to spend an increasing portion of their meagre income on food. The WFP warns that these people will be forced to buy less food, or less nutritious food, or rely on outside help.

    The countries that will be most affected include Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Djibouti, the Gambia, Togo, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Senegal, all on the African continent. Also affected will be Haiti, Myanmar (Burma), Yemen and Cuba. Continue reading

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    Filed under Asia, Development, Food Security, Globalization, Poverty, Social Protection, World

    Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides…

    Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India and More

    We speak with world-renowned environmental leader and thinker, Vandana Shiva. A physicist and ecologist, Shiva is author of many books, her latest is “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace.” [includes rush transcript]

    In India, more than three hundred farmers climbed water tanks in the country’s central Vidarbha region, many of them threatening to commit suicide unless the government fulfilled their demands to lift them out of poverty. Throughout India, more and more troubled farmers are killing themselves. Up to three farmers a day swallow pesticides, hang themselves from trees, drown themselves in rivers, set themselves on fire or jump down wells. Many of them are plagued by debt, poor crops and hopelessness.
    • Vandana Shiva, world-renowned environmental leader and thinker. She is also a physicist and ecologist and the Director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is the founder of Navdanya–“nine seeds”, a movement promoting diversity and use of native seeds. Dr. Shiva was the 1993 recipient of the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize–the Right Livelihood Award. And she is the author of many books, her latest is “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace.”
    AMY GOODMAN: Vandana Shiva remains with us, physicist; ecologist; director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology; in ‘93, awarded the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize, the Right Livelihood Award; her latest book, Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace. There is an epidemic you write about in India of farmer suicides. Can you explain what’s happening and where this is happening?

    VANDANA SHIVA: Indian farmers have never committed suicide on a large scale. It’s something totally new. It’s linked to the last decade of globalization, trade liberalization under a corporate-driven economy. The seed sector was liberalized to allow corporations like Cargill and Monsanto to sell unregulated, untested seed. They began with hybrids, which can’t be saved, and moved on to genetically engineered Bt cotton. The cotton belt is where the suicides are taking place on a very, very large scale. It is the suicide belt of India.

    And the high cost of seed is linked to high cost of chemicals, because these seeds need chemicals. In addition, these costly seeds need to be bought every year, because their very design is to make seeds nonrenewable, seed that isn’t renewable by its very nature, but whether it’s through patenting systems, intellectual property rights or technologically through hybridization, nonrenewable seed is being sold to farmers so they must buy every year. Continue reading


    Filed under Climate Change, Environment, Food Security, Globalization, India, Inequality, Poverty, Social Protection, Uncategorized, World

    Social protection in Pakistan

    Cross posted from here

    A recent World Bank report; Social protection in Pakistan : managing household risks and vulnerability

    Abstract: The report is the result of an inter-institutional collaborative effort between the Government of Pakistan, civil society, and international donors. This report finds that while Pakistan implements a wide array of social protection programs, the effectiveness of these programs could be significantly improved. The report finds that social protection programs in Pakistan face important constraints in terms of coverage, targeting, and implementation, and inability to respond to vulnerability, which will need to be overcome in order that they can more effectively protect the poor. The report suggests a two-pronged approach for social protection reform: (i) improving the ability of safety net programs to reach the poor, promote exit from poverty, and respond to natural disasters; coupled with (ii) a longer term approach for strengthening social security. Considering social protection as a system rather than a collection of different programs would allow the government to curtail fragmentation, improve the quality of social protection spending, and have higher impact. Given fiscal constraints, the report suggests that coverage expansion first exploits the opportunity for efficiency improvements in current programs, through better targeting and reduction in duplication and overlap. However, the decline in real spending on the two main safety net programs is worrisome. It is therefore welcome that the government is considering how best to ensure adequate yet fiscally affordable spending on safety nets as part of its draft social protection strategy.


    Filed under Pakistan, Poverty, Social Protection