Will the green shoots blossom? A new wave of social protection in Sub-Saharan Africa

Armando Barrientos, David Hulme, Miguel Nino Zarazua

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Historically social protection in sub-Saharan Africa has focused on risk management and in particular on food aid, food insecurity and famine or disaster relief. During the 1990s a ???Southern African model??? of social protection has evolved centred on non-contributory pensions for poor, elderly people (and their households). This has diffused from South Africa to neighbouring states and, in South Africa, has been extended into the Child Support Grant. The Southern African model is largely financed from domestic revenues and supported by domestic political constituencies. Since 2000 a ???Middle African model??? (Central, Eastern, Western Africa and the Horn) has started to emerge based on the provision of cash transfers to vulnerable groups ??? extreme poor and destitute households, orphans and vulnerable children. Most of these programmes remain as pilot and/or experimental projects initiated by donors and financed through foreign aid. While they are generating useful knowledge there is a real danger that they will be seen as just another donor fad and that they will not be socially or politically embedded in African societies. The one major exception is Ethiopia???s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP). This reaches more than 7 million people and, although it is largely funded by aid donors, the Government of Ethiopia has been heavily involved in its design and management. In addition to cash transfers the PSNP is linked to services ??? to access benefits participants have to provide labour for public works.This paper provides an overview and analysis of the recent rise of social protection programmes in sub-Saharan Africa; explores the contrasting policy processes behind these programmes; examines the major challenges they face (financial viability, institutional capacity and political support); and considers the prospects for the establishment of social protection programmes that can effectively reduce vulnerability and support poor Africans in their struggles to escape poverty.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Place of PublicationColumbia, New York
PublisherInitiative for Policy Dialogue
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009
EventAfrica Task Force - Pretoria, South Africa
Duration: 9 Jul 200910 Jul 2009


ConferenceAfrica Task Force
CityPretoria, South Africa


  • Social Protection, transfer programmes, Sub-Saharan Africa, poverty

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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