Responding to a crisis: the design and delivery of social protection

Working and discussion papers
April 2014

One of the primary objectives of social protection is to help households cope with adverse events, including shocks that affect entire communities, known as covariate shocks. Three policy features are critical to the effectiveness of social protection in such circumstances: timeliness, adaptability and adequacy in terms of levels and resources. Policy needs rapid implementation at a large enough scale to reach the high number of people affected.

However, social protection provision in the aftermath of covariate shocks faces a number of challenges. The regulation of existing policies to address vulnerability and risk in non-crisis times may contrast with the need for a rapid and adequate response in a crisis context. The complexities and challenges already encountered in policy delivery in regular times are commonly aggravated by the disruption resulting from a shock. Furthermore, policy financing mechanisms used in non-crisis times come under strain as tax revenues and social security contributions decline and the demand for social protection increases.

Drawing on the experience of a wide range of countries and social protection policies in the aftermath of different shocks, this paper identifies the policy design and implementation details that enable timely and adequate shock response. It also examines developments in securing adequate social protection financing and crisis preparedness.  

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