Adaptive social protection and decentralization: a conceptual framework – World

Andrew Wyatt, with Valentina Barca
September 2021


The purpose of this article is to provide an entry point for discussion – and practical engagement with – the potential for linking adaptive social protection and decentralization programs, primarily by technicians and practitioners within German development cooperation. The need to clarify the links and areas of convergence between these is evident for two main reasons.

• Firstly, these are two priority strategic areas for German development cooperation. For example, although decentralization is not specifically mentioned in the BMZ 2030 reform strategy, the main focus areas of BMZ related to SDG 16 (the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies) that are cited in this strategy include democracy, local authority structures and social protection. . Additionally, a related BMZ paper, A Sustainable Path to the Future: The 2030 Implementation Initiative, sees decentralization and municipal development as key to implementing initiatives to achieve the SDGs.

• Second, more broadly, understanding the institutional foundation for successful adaptive social protection will be crucial to ensuring results that ensure increased ownership, responsiveness, equity, coordination, value for money and resources.

The paper attempts to establish how decentralization, localization and social protection – more specifically adaptive social protection – relate to each other conceptually. Building on this foundation, it seeks to outline a practical approach that could help practitioners engage meaningfully with each other, and dialogue with partner governments at different levels, about the possibility of linking these programs.

A major challenge that this document needs to address at the outset, before going any further, is that (adaptive) social protection and decentralization are two complex areas, serving as broad headings that cover several different types of programs and systems under -lyings. In addition, there is a need to understand the relationship between what is sometimes called ‘routine’ social protection and adaptive social protection (ASP); the close links between SPA, adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management (DRM); and the concept of localization as it has been applied to both DRM and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • It is not possible to draw simple links between these areas, or to answer the question ‘does decentralization help or hinder (adaptive) social protection?’ The right answer to this question must take the form of a few additional questions: “what type – and what size – of (adaptive) social protection programme? », « what type of decentralization » and « in what context? “.

Any practical guidance must therefore do justice to this complexity and the wide range of different circumstances that practitioners may encounter in a particular country or sub-national setting. This document thus creates the outline of a diagnostic instrument, to help characterize with precision the scope of existing social protection and the provision of ASP and the institutional framework through which it is provided, and the potential impacts proposed changes. These could either reflect the implications of decentralization initiatives for the provision of social protection/SPA, or, conversely, the interplay between interventions aimed at strengthening social protection and a broader sector governance reform agenda. public. Based on this contextual analysis, it is then possible to propose some principles that should guide action in different circumstances. Before all of this can be done, the following section details the key terms we are interested in. In particular, what do decentralization, localization, social protection and adaptive social protection imply?

Joel C. Hicks