Social Protection

A brief on Social Protection

DFID defines social protection as 'a sub-set of public actions that help address risk, vulnerability and chronic poverty'. On a conceptual approach basis, social protection offers a way of thinking the requirements of groups and individuals to live a fulfilling life, the role of the state in facilitating this, and the vulnerabilities of particular groups or individuals. As a set of policies, social protection addresses interventions put in place to address vulnerabilities and factors which hinder a group or individual's capacity to enjoy a fulfilling life.


social protection

In the eyes of Social Protection, the state is a provider and protector of its citizens with a rich history in Western Europe in the Post World War II period. In its original set up, social protection was limited to supporting people in the management and mitigation of shocks and heightened vulnerabilities, but lately, social protection discussions have expanded to incorporate four types of interventions that include:

  • Protection (recovery from shocks);
  • Prevention (mitigation of risks in order to avoid shocks);
  • Promotion (promotion of opportunities);
  • Transformation (focusing on underlying structural inequalities which give rise to vulnerability).

This change in approach can be attributed to increased awareness and concern on global risks that include economic shocks, disasters and increased risks to livelihoods, the emergence of human security as a unit of analysis and the numerous development goals (MDGS and SDGs).

Social protection has a close relationship with other developmental issues like poverty and vulnerability reduction, pro-poor growth, agricultural development, humanitarian to development transitions, rights, exclusion of voicelessness and the capacity of developing country states to fulfil essential functions.               

Social Protection forms the backbone of risk and vulnerability reduction. This is because it aims at analyzing risks of Most at Risk Populations (MARPS) i.e. the elderly, children, women, the sick, unemployed, the disabled and marginalized groups with the sole purpose of reducing these risks so as to improve the quality of lives and improvement of livelihoods.

Short term social protection through safety nets is unsustainable as it is expensive and welfarist. This is because such programs increase dependency whose immediate result is a reduction in self-reliance. It is with this understanding that social protection has evolved to incorporate the four interventions mentioned above that focus mostly on long term preventative (mitigation of risks) and promotion of opportunities to sustain livelihoods.

These approaches seek to highlight and understand causes of enduring poverty in the same breath attempting to address the socio-economic and political barriers vulnerable people face in climbing out of poverty.

Versed’ training on social protection and safety nets introduces some of the best literature on the understandings and types of social protection, the design and implementation problems to be considered, the potential for mainstreaming other development concerns into social protection programming, and the major debates both the donor and academic arenas.

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