Social protection in fragile contexts: the unique role of pensions

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to attend the international conference on Social Protection in contexts of fragility and forced displacement. One of the recurring messages emerging from the conference was that the ultimate ambition in these contexts should be long-term, nationally-owned social protection systems. I was able to share some thinking about ...

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Under threat: social protection that includes everybody in their old age?

October 1st is the International Day of Older Persons, this year about ensuring older people can fully contribute to society. It’s a day for everyone, since we all hope to reach old age and enjoy long and fruitful lives. And, of course, none of us want our last years destroyed by poverty, which is why we want to access ...

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Team Social Protection, it’s time to catch up with Team Child Protection!

Before I dive into this blog, I want to clarify one point: child protection and social protection are not the same thing. I’ve had some awkward (and at times heated) debates about this in the past so I want to clear this up first. Simply put, social protection (or social security) is about preventing and responding to income-related shocks, crises and vulnerabilities across the life cycle. Child protection on the other ...

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Pathways to a universal basic income in low- and middle-income countries

The idea of providing a periodic, unconditional cash transfer to all residents of a country – a universal basic income – has rapidly gained traction in recent years. However, the debate about basic income often seems curiously divorced from the wider debate about the expansion of social security systems, writes Rasmus Schjoedt.

For example, the debate about the potential for a basic income in India has so far neglected ...

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Lost in translation in social protection: rights and development

Those of us working on social protection have, most likely, interacted with both the human rights and international development worlds and noticed their somewhat different approaches to social protection.  While there is some overlap between the approaches, they often struggle to work collaboratively. We need to develop a shared language so that the nuts and bolts of the social protection agenda are not lost in translation, writes Alexandra Barrantes.

The ...

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What lies behind the thinking of those driving development at the IMF?

The IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office rarely lives up to its pretention to operate in real independence from the Fund, as its name implies, writes Peter Bavkis.  One is hard-pressed to cite IEO reports that embrace thorough critiques of IMF policies, despite their frequency in academic circles and among civil society organisations, or that call for substantial revamping of policies and practices. The IEO report  ...

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The importance of community perspectives: engaging with the Karamojong in Uganda

As a researcher in training, I had the opportunity to participate in a study into the core causes of food, nutrition, and income insecurity in Karamoja, a sub region in the east of Uganda. This mixed-methods study – undertaken by Development Pathways for the World Food Programme – was my first experience conducting research in the field, writes Development Pathways’ Anh Tran.

For one week – as part of my professional development ...

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Is Nigeria’s Social Protection on the cusp of transformation?

Will the design of a direct cash transfer in Nigeria ensure its ongoing popularity and sustainability? Guest blogger Gbenga Shadare considers the issues.

In the course of the last presidential campaign in Nigeria, which saw the People’s Democratic Party overthrown for the first time since the return to democracy in 1999,  the candidate for the All Progressive Congress promised a direct cash transfer to the poorest citizens. While pundits and critics generally ...

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Child protection momentum building as Government of Sri Lanka commits to bold action

The global drive to end violence against children is gaining momentum, with Sri Lanka one of the latest countries stepping up to tackle the issue.

It is fantastic that Sri Lanka has joined the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children as a pathfinder country, to lead the way in promoting the rights of all children to be ...

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Are Graduation Programmes the ‘Silver Bullet’ for poverty reduction?

Graduation Programming- 'silver bullet' for poverty reduction- (2)


Following the increased attention that has been given to ‘Graduation’ programmes in recent years, the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth has released a timely special issue of Policy in Focus: ‘Debating Graduation’. It comprises a collection of diverse papers with contesting perspectives on the value of the Graduation approach, ranging from committed enthusiasts, to the cautiously optimistic, to scepticism.


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Enough with the KIDDing around – let’s tackle the BIG questions!

Not too long ago, my colleague, Stephen Kidd, wrote a blog called ‘The debate in the World Bank on the Proxy Means Test hots up: or does it?’ (you can find the blog here). In it, he took issue with the way that the Bank’s Social Protection and Labour Group is continuing to plug the use of Proxy Mean Tests (PMTs) despite the Bank’s Research Development Group taking ...

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The debate in the World Bank on the Proxy Means Test hots up: or does it?

It has been great to see the response so far to the debate on the proxy means test (PMT); and, as you’ll know from a recent blog by Nick Freeland, the World Bank itself is beginning to question the value and worth of the PMT. However, we don’t yet know the depth of this questioning. It’s only very recently that members of the Social ...

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Pensheni Kwa Wote! Building the Social Protection Floor for Older Persons in Kenya

The 31st of March 2017 marked a great step forward for Kenya with the announcement of a social pension for all older persons. Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich – the Minister of Finance – presented the 2017/18 Budget to both Houses of Parliament which included measures to address poverty through social protection.

The most eye-catching part of his announcement ...

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Rationing, not targeting

“Will no-one rid me of this troublesome PMT?”[i]

Anyone who has worked in social protection knows that the thorniest issue of all is that of “targeting”. The recent polemics on these pages about the inadequacy of the Proxy Means Test (PMT) as a “targeting” mechanism (including my last blog post: Poxy Means Testing: it’s Official!) have raised the more fundamental question of whether it is in ...

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Poxy Means Testing: it’s Official!

(“A prox on both your houses”)[i]

The World Bank has recently – and some would say belatedly – undertaken a critical review of the Proxy Means Test (PMT)[ii], the approach to targeting that it has been advocating, uncritically, for the past decade.

The results are astonishing. Disguised beneath a splendidly econometric veneer, the raw findings that emerge demonstrate that the PMT is a wholly ...

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Poxy Means Testing

PMT is a curse! Sisters, you all know that: inescapable, debilitating, emotionally draining, a regular cause of extreme irritability!

But I refer here not to Pre-Menstrual Tension, but rather to a new form of PMT that is sweeping the globe: Proxy Means Testing.

This variant of PMT is a method of selecting poor people to become beneficiaries of social transfer programmes, currently being advocated strongly by, among others, my good ...

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MPs in Uganda make case for universal social protection programme

When discussing the governance of social protection in developing countries, we usually focus on the Executive Branch institutions and their role in policy development – as well as the design, implementation and monitoring of schemes – but pay little attention to the role of Parliaments. Nonetheless, as part of their key legislative, oversight and representative functions running across the policy-making process,

Parliaments have a key role in advancing the social ...

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Why India is right to consider a universal basic income

The concept of a universal basic income is, somewhat surprisingly, receiving renewed attention from the Indian government. In recent interviews, the government’s Chief Economic Advisor, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, has called it an idea that ‘has a lot of promise.’ According to Dr. Subramanian, the next Economic Survey – an important document that outlines the government of India’s policy ...

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What is the Future of Bolsa Família?

Bolsa Família is often promoted as a model of good practice for social protection programmes in the developing world. As a Brazilian, in the short period of time that I’ve worked on international social protection, I’ve been surprised by how famous Bolsa Família is around the world and how it has inspired similar programmes around the world. But, despite its great reputation internationally, in Brazil it is nowhere near as ...

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Universal social protection: the ILO attempt, once more, to persuade the World Bank to commit to inclusivity and the right to social security for all

On Wednesday 21st September 2016, we heard the apparently joyous news that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and World Bank had launched the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection which “aims to make pensions, maternity, disability and child benefits, among others, available to all persons.” Does this send hope to developing countries that the World Bank is ...

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