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Safety nets boost consumption levels of the poorest across Africa

Colin Andrews's picture

Social safety nets are among the most frequently evaluated social policy interventions in Africa. The surge of information has left practitioners and policymakers alike a little puzzled. What can we say about the average impacts of social safety nets across the continent? Our Chapter 2 in the report on Realizing the Full Potential of Social Safety Nets in Africa tackles these questions by aggregating findings across numerous studies to provide a more systematic assessment. The full methodological details (that would have overwhelmed the chapter for a World Bank report!) are detailed in the companion Policy Research Working Paper.

We identified 55 impact evaluations to study, spanning 27 programs in 14 African countries. (These 55 studies were culled from a longer list of 250 evaluations identified on the basis of study quality and comparable outcomes.) Table 1 summarizes the findings of the analysis. The results are strongest on equity - that is ensuring the poorest households can afford their basic needs. These findings are certainly not entirely new: they complement (and are consistent with) existing literature. For example, the recently published global meta-analysis on food security and assets, as well as another systematic review for Africa and the world.   

How skilled are refugees in Ethiopia?

Utz Pape's picture

Ethiopia has been suffering from multiple refugee crises – some more protracted, some more recent – that put a strain on coping capacity of national and local authorities. A new World Bank survey and report inform policies on durable solutions for the displaced populations through an evidence-based approach.

Displacement situations in Ethiopia resulted from a combination of protracted conflicts in neighboring countries (Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan), more recent crises (South Sudan, Yemen), and endemic internal ethnic unrest in some peripheral regions (Oromia, Somali/Ogaden, Afar). As a result of these regional and domestic conflicts, Ethiopia has been one of the most important refugee hosting countries for decades.

There are four main Ethiopian regions that host refugees, each of whom hosts a specific group and has a unique ethnic composition: Tigray and Afar (hosting Eritreans), Gambella (hosting South Sudanese), Benishangul Gumuz (hosting mostly Sudanese, but also South Sudanese), and Somali (Somalis). Thus, the displacement contexts are remarkably diverse: the regions hosting refugees are all peripheral and relatively underserved. Eritreans, Somalis, South Sudanese and Sudanese were displaced due to different drivers related to conflict and fragility, and each group is integrated to different degrees within Ethiopian economy and host communities.

Social safety nets in Africa: Everywhere and growing, but going where?

Kathleen Beegle's picture

Despite a fall in the rate of poverty rate in Africa (down from 54% in 1990 to 41% in 2015), there are more poor people than in 1990 because of rapid population growth. By 2015, half of the world’s extreme poor were in Africa—up from 25% in 2002. Statistics in the non-monetary poverty space echo these patterns. While education, health, and other critical services (water, sanitation, and others) have expanded for people living in the region, levels are still extremely low. Many people lack adequate water and sanitation, and many children are in poor health and lack quality education opportunities.

There are many avenues for working to alleviate poverty in Africa. Among the newest approaches has been the rapid expansion of social safety nets.  Every African country has now established at least one social safety net program, and many have several. Back in 2000, few people were talking of social safety nets in the region. Now there is lots of talk! The average number of new social safety net programs launched each year in African countries since 2010 exceeded 10 (see figure).

Re-awakening Kinshasa’s Splendor Through Targeted Urban Interventions

Sameh Wahba's picture
Also available in: Français
The district of Gombe from above. Photo: Dina Ranarifidy/World Bank


While traveling from the Ndjili Airport to the city center of Kinshasa, you will be introduced to a unique urban experience. The ambient chaos, high traffic congestion and crowded streets may remind you of other African cities, but in Kinshasa—Kin as locals fondly refer to her—everything is larger, faster and louder than life.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital is a festival of the senses; a dynamic amalgam of people and places that mix the rich and poor, blending the activities of people with opportunities and people fighting for survival, where fancy multi-story buildings are erected just miles away from massive slums. Although poverty is apparent, the lust for life, the vibrancy of local cultures, and the vivid manifestation of cultural expressions thrive among the Kinois.

Protecting Somalia’s growing mobile money consumers

Thilasoni Benjamin Musuku's picture



The mobile money market is booming in Somalia. Approximately 155 million transactions, worth $2.7 billion or 36% of gross domestic product (GDP), are recorded every month. Mobile money accounts for a high proportion of money supply in the domestic, dollarized economy and has superseded the use of cash; seven out of 10 of Somalis use mobile money services regularly.

Five ways Nigeria can realize mobile technology's potential for the unbanked

Leora Klapper's picture

Although it’s Africa's largest economy, Nigeria is missing out on the region’s most exciting financial innovation: mobile money.
 
Twenty-one percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa have a mobile money account, nearly double the share from 2014, according to the latest Global Findex report.
 
By contrast, Nigeria lags behind: just 6% of adults have a mobile money account, a number virtually unchanged from 2014.

The Central African Backbone project, central pillar of the digital revolution in Gabon

Radwan Charafeddine's picture
Also available in: Français
The expansion of the fiber optic network serves to increase productivity and enhance administrative efficiency.  Photo Credit: O. Hebga/World Bank


In 2010 Gabon was lagging far behind in the development of its digital sector.  The cost of internet access was exorbitant and service quality left a lot to be desired.  This was due largely to the monopoly enjoyed by the traditional provider, Gabon Telecom, and to the lack of fiber optic transport infrastructure in the country.  Furthermore, the legal and regulatory framework of the sector was not conducive to the attraction of private sector investment.

The challenges of macroeconomic stabilization in the Southern African Customs Union

Sébastien Dessus's picture



The good governance of public financial resources is often more challenging during good times than during bad times. In the event of an unexpected negative shock – say a drought or a sudden decline in demand for the commodities produced in the country – it is generally rewarding, from a political perspective, for the government to launch ‘stimulus packages’ to keep the economic engine running.

Happy Father’s Day: Fathers and children’s self-esteem

Joachim De Weerdt's picture
The results of a longitudinal study show the impact of paternal death on children’s self-esteem. Photo: World Bank



On Sunday, many fathers around the world received cards and gifts from their children in celebration of Father’s Day. But fathers who have been following the academic and policy debates in the development community may feel somewhat exasperated that the role of men in the household and of fathers in raising children gets so little mention. It is the role of mothers that generally takes the spotlight; but what about fathers?

Assessing the poverty footprint of World Bank projects for the Burkina Faso CPF

Johannes Hoogeveen's picture
Also available in: Français
Map 1: Spatial distribution of Burkina Faso's portfolio

With nearly half of the population (or approximately 8 million people) living in extreme poverty, Burkina Faso is poised to make inroads in the long and challenging journey to achieve the World Bank Group's overarching twin goals: ending extreme poverty in 2030 and boosting shared prosperity. Every fiscal year since 2015, the Bank has committed more than 300 million dollars of IDA resources in support of development projects in Burkina Faso.  The World Bank has also provided a set of timely analytical and advisory services to inform national development strategies and policies in the country. 

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