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The Rise of Social Safety Nets in Africa

Ritva Reinikka's picture

Until very recently, social safety nets—programs that transfer cash or in-kind resources to poor and vulnerable people in a variety of ways—were seen as the preserve of rich or middle-income countries. The program that often came to mind when I thought of social safety nets in developing countries was Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, which is said to be the largest in the world and one of the most successful.

But today, many low-income countries do have some form of social safety net, and those in Sub-Saharan Africa are no exception. Over the past decade, 120 cash transfer programs have been rolled out in Africa. And there is growing evidence that these programs can have an impact on poverty and are a strong investment in people. Safety nets help poor people meet their basic needs, including food, healthcare and education; provide temporary assistance during economic or climate-related crisis; and build household or community assets.

At the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings this year, a livestreamed event, “The Rise of Social Safety Nets in Africa,” will present the latest knowledge and evidence on safety nets in the region. Highlights include an overview of safety nets in the African context, the link between Rwanda’s Vision 2020 Umurenge program and the country’s rapid poverty reduction, and the role of technology in improving the efficiency and transparency of these programs.

The panel includes:

  • Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice-President for Africa
  • Ms. Tamar Manuelyan Atinc, World Bank Vice-President, Human Development
  • Hon. John Rwangombwa, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda
  • Mr. John Staley, Director, Mobile Banking and Payments Innovation, Equity Bank

 

“The Rise of Social Safety Nets in Africa” will be livestreamed on Friday, April 20 at 1 p.m. UTC/GMT (9:00 a.m. Washington DC), at http://www.livestream.com/WorldBankAfrica

A short film capturing the voices of people benefiting from social safety nets in Africa will also be played during the event. The film opens with the recent experiences of a woman who has recently started receiving cash transfers in Niger, a country where food insecurity has long been a threat. It also features a young man in Kenya, who was able to open a business and look after his orphaned siblings thanks to a cash transfer. Finally, it takes us to Ethiopia where a student describes how his family benefited from a productive safety net program that allowed them to invest in their farm. Eventually, the family left the program as they no longer needed it.



I hope that this event will be truly useful for all those who are working to find the best ways to cushion poor people from crisis, and to invest in people consistently and sustainably. Please join us. We want to hear from you. RSVP

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on
The aproach and extrapolation from MICs is obviously innacurate and cannot deliver for LICs and FSs , yet a specific model can be aimed that stands while the transition toward a more integrated system takes place.. Not aiming the "perfect trend" of those, but a useful trend through smart adaptation and regional coordination. Just as the electronic delivery mechanisms can cut fraud and achieve wide coverages, one can use the same concept avoiding setbacks that are the everyday risk by government performance and insecure territorial situation. These setbacks jeopardize effort and achievements. Also the need to cover the setbacks through climate shocks that impact with disruptive economic power the agriculture and small industry and local business emerging environment. With the target of supporting individuals and small corporations trying to make way out of the fragile condition the international help could assist the core of it : building the consistency so that the rescue should not become the rule that afterwards does not provide tools for the change from an already very bad status quo. The small steps for an economic trend moving up in spite of local shakings and threats needs the preservation of what is achieved between shocks and in spite of them. That demands granted networks not evaporating with them. The confidence frees people to aim the support for small investments and the credibility of economic back for developing institutions : it grants the bacic fairness for the system of values to be enhanced facing shocks and risks in a different mood. Then the adjustment with the changing behaviours ,keeping it light and flexible and fitting into different outcomes. The different priorities established for each group of countries should respect not only peoples`choices but also keep in pace with the similarity of economic status to belong under a similar umbrella,of course. So financial tools to stand turnmoils could be used if independent from territorial situation, both for country based on demographic specifics and for voluntary individual schemes bringing aboard by mentoring and safeguarding persons and small corporates by reestablishing the stability after disrupting events even if in a different place or business. They would target both small financing ,and very relevant, protecting the precarious condition of small savings and investment schemes nurturing countercyclical education ,say for a minimum period of 6 to 8 years . Besides the usual help, so badly needed , a trend for a more stable social network can be put in place with affordable costs and leveraging the upgoing process, based on individuals and their real conditions if a financial and tailored approach is applied , followed by an evidence based control of results on a regular basis after the reestablishment post each local setback. It also allows mentoring for better use of land,water,crops and building connections to regional markets . The obvious link with skill training , health and sanitation, and education helps it to belong in the conjoint actions while still remaining a financial specific tool.

You are correct in pointing out that safety nets designed for MICs cannot automatically be copied for LICs. Nevertheless, safety nets have proven that they can be effective in low-income countries. At the same time the design of safety nets systems needs to be tailored to the country-context, particularly in LICs and FS but we need to also consider the fact that over time many LICs could becomes MICs and the design used during the LIC stage should have the right institutional characteristics to be translated into the MIC context and face MIC challenges - the latter come up sooner than reaching MIC status. With regard to your points on financial services for the poor - the best sources are available at the CGAP website: You are correct in pointing out that safety nets designed for MICs cannot automatically be copied for LICs. Nevertheless, safety nets have proven that they can be effective in low-income countries. At the same time the design of safety nets systems needs to be tailored to the country-context, particularly in LICs and FS but we need to also consider the fact that over time many LICs could becomes MICs and the design used during the LIC stage should have the right institutional characteristics to be translated into the MIC context and face MIC challenges - the latter come up sooner than reaching MIC status. With regard to your points on financial services for the poor - the best sources are available at the CGAP website: www.cgap.org

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