Helping households cope with covariate shocks that affect entire communities, or large parts of a country’s population at the same time, is one of the objectives of social protection. In order to provide effective support in such circumstances, policies need to be timely, adaptive and adequate in terms of resources.
This paper reviews the policy reforms aimed at scaling-up social protection provision, or protecting the poorest in the context of spending cuts, in the aftermath of shocks in Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and Viet Nam, four countries which are subject to frequent covariate shocks and that have implemented a host of social protection policy adjustments. It identifies the main challenges encountered in social protection shock response and the trade-offs associated with alternative social protection instruments and policy adjustment options. The paper also discusses recent developments in securing adequate social protection financing and preparedness for shock response.