Children and social protection in the Middle East and North Africa: a mapping exercise

Working and discussion papers
October 2011
Rachel Marcus and Paola Pereznieto with Erin Cullen and Nicola Jones

This ODI Working Paper maps key social protection initiatives and stakeholders at national level in the Middle East and North Africa, with a specific focus on child-sensitive social protection.

Conclusions suggest that all countries in the region are home to a range of social protection initiatives, and in each country there is a complex jigsaw of different interventions, as well as different modalities for their provision.

Some of these have a specific child focus (e.g. food for education programmes, scholarships, cash transfers targeted at orphans, shelters for abandoned children or street children). Others are targeted at low-income families such that disadvantaged children are a key beneficiary group (e.g. cash transfers for low-income families in Jordan and Tunisia), while others aim to address broader poverty and vulnerability (targeted and untargeted) and can benefit children through benefits to households where children live, if intra-household dynamics are favourable to all children in the household (girls, boys, children with disabilities, etc.).

Children are also benefiting from geographically focused interventions, such as social funds for development, which can include social protection components such as school meal and cash transfer programmes and food assistance in areas and for sections of the population that are severely food-insecure (e.g. WFP programmes in Yemen and UNRWA and WFP programmes in OPT).

Children are also benefiting from generalised subsidies, such as food and energy subsidies (e.g. Egypt, Yemen), although, because these are regressive, the impact on poorer children is smaller than it would be if expenditure were refocused.

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