How the World Bank supports shock-responsive social protection systems – World

Michal Rutkowski, Global Director for Social Protection and Employment at the World Bank.

To effectively help the most vulnerable, social protection systems must be adaptive. Shock-responsive social protection is particularly important in the context of fragility, conflict and violence (FCV). Shock-responsive or adaptive social protection systems can be scaled up and down quickly, especially during shocks and crises, when system expansion is paramount.

Expansion can be horizontal, meaning covering more people with social protection systems, or vertical, covering the same people deeper, with higher benefits. To develop such systems, countries need strong social registries and good registration, delivery and payment systems, often leveraging technology. Strong partnerships between ministries, from disaster management to finance and social protection, are also essential.

Sierra Leone is a country with a complex risk profile that has developed well-functioning delivery systems. He was able to use his social safety net in the response to Ebola and the floods and landslides. Along with pre-positioned risk financing, this system has enabled Sierra Leone to deploy cash transfers in response to COVID before other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Somalia, the World Bank worked with WFP and UNICEF to build systems in a crisis context. In Sudanthe family support program, developed before the coup, simultaneously provided money and invested in the construction of registers and payment systems.

In Yemen, despite ongoing conflict, we have scaled up public works and cash for nutrition through partners and used our emergency response program to help build institutions. It is essential to think about longer-term institutionalization alongside the response to the shock.

Social protection can help address the effects of multiple risks in FCV settings

In the context of FCV, shock-responsive social protection systems play a particularly important role. Every intervention must start with a quick win, build on success and allow for experimentation because, in uncertainty, we don’t know what will work.

Social protection systems must also focus on diversifying families’ sources of income in order to increase their income and strengthen their resilience. Economic inclusion programs have successfully supported families, displaced people and communities in FCV contexts. Economic inclusion programs differ from normal social safety nets because they involve a set of activities: cash transfers are accompanied by coaching, mentoring, asset transfers or other non-financial interventions. that allow families to adjust their activities so that they can be linked to value chains and be productive.

It is also important to set up family services to solve multiple problems. In Sudan, we now have a one-stop shop for the program where citizens can obtain government ID and access services, including COVID-19 vaccination. A platform has been built that provides cash transfers and much more. In **Guinea **and Republic of CongoCOVID-19 emergency programs lay the foundation for shock-responsive safety net systems.

World Bank Encourages Countries to Strengthen Their Systems’ Preparedness and Resilience to Future Crises

For two years, we have been working hard to develop a stress test of social protection systems, which aims to test their ability to withstand shocks. We can now assess what needs to be done to make systems responsive and able to withstand stress.

This stress test mechanism has two elements: first, an assessment of the country’s exposure to risk – we run scenarios to assess the robustness of a country. The second element focuses on the responsiveness of social protection systems and has four building blocks: delivery and payment systems; data and information, including early warning systems and social registers; funding – can it be made available if needed; and institutional arrangements and partnerships that examine governance and cooperation between government agencies.

We rate these four elements on a scale of 1 to 5. The average rating gives an overall picture of readiness. Performing such tests allows countries to assess the robustness of their social protection system to future shocks and crises.

Critical role of partnerships in delivering effective social protection programs in FCV countries

Partnerships are essential because in the context of shocks, social protection interventions – as important as they are – are much smaller than the humanitarian response. Additionally, humanitarian agencies use their own systems, designed to work in a crisis context, to deliver benefits and mitigate impact, rather than government channels. For us, strengthening government systems is very important. We therefore work closely with humanitarian organizations leading early interventions to create a unique space for strengthening humanitarian institutions.

In Yemen, our partnership with UNDP and UNICEF was instrumental in reviving the country’s social protection institutions after a near collapse as the country faced a humanitarian crisis. The presence of UN agencies in the country has been extremely beneficial and together we have created a humanitarian-development nexus to deliver social protection interventions and build permanent resilience.

In Somalia, together with UNICEF and WFP, we have supported the government in setting up its own social protection systems, drawing on WFP’s experience in rapid response while strengthening national capacities in social protection systems. social protection. We can now see a shift from protracted humanitarian response to long-term social safety net systems, which also fosters trust in state institutions.

This story is based on a DEVEX interview conducted on March 10, 2022. (Watch the Devex video interview here)

Joel C. Hicks