When and how citizen engagement can improve social protection programme delivery

Social protection schemes are often implemented in contexts characterised by weak accountability of government officials to citizens. Strengthening accountability is important to ensure the quality delivery of social protection and to build better relations between citizens and the state. One way of strengthening accountability is through increased involvement of citizens in social protection programme monitoring, writes Rasmus Schjoedt.

Social accountability initiatives – aimed at empowering citizens to hold officials to account – ...

Read More

The limits of using ‘Big Data’ for development – an economist writes

Get your inner nerd out! The World Bank has launched a competition to help them better predict a households’ poverty status based on easy-to-collect information and machine learning algorithms. Build a statistical model that works well, and you could win a cash price of up to US$ 6,000! So what’s the pitch? asks Bjorn Gelders.

“Right now measuring poverty is hard, ...

Read More

Has the World Bank admitted defeat on poverty-targeting?

The World Bank’s competition to develop a tool for poverty-targeting, with a top prize of US$6,000, comes after decades of work and millions of dollars of investment by the World Bank in designing poverty-targeting mechanisms. Many of their staff have dedicated their best years to the task – and yet success has been minimal, writes Stephen Kidd.

The best they’ve managed to come up ...

Read More

Are you respecting the right to privacy as you advance social protection?

The protection of privacy in large scale social protection programmes in low-income countries is rightly under the spotlight at this time, and this demands an effective response from those designing and implementing social protection programmes, writes Richard Chirchir.

Criticism regarding data handling for beneficiaries and entitlement transfers, and apparent unauthorised access to identity databases that social protection programmes link to, have been in the news recently. Incidents such as these in the sector ...

Read More

*STOP PRESS* at Davos time: Social protection a boost for the economy! (When it’s for the rich)

This year’s Davos there is a bigger spotlight than ever on inequality, but whilst the rhetoric is changing, I am struck by how entrenched assumptions and perceptions about poverty are, and this matters for social protection practitioners, writes Alexandra Barrantes.

It is encouraging to see the growing amount of research showing that low-income families (the so called ‘poor’) do not squander cash transferred to them by governments (or by donor ...

Read More

Proxy means testing: failing both the economics test, and the rights test?

The use of proxy means-tests in social protection defies human rights and makes no economic sense, so nations must instead investigate options for implementing an inclusive social protection floor, writes Dr Michael Cichon.

Paragraph 25 of the UDHR states  “Everyone has… the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”.  The right to an adequate standard of ...

Read More

Free at last! Kyrgyzstan’s liberation from poor relief, with universal social security for children

In April 2018, a new law will enter into force in Kyrgyzstan which abolishes its main poor relief scheme and replaces it with a system of universal child benefits. This is a major step forward in Kyrgyzstan’s attempt to build an inclusive, lifecycle social protection system, since the nation already offers universal old age pension coverage and disability benefits. However, it is a progressive move that has not gone unnoticed ...

Read More

The two lives of social protection: the tale of cash transfers and social security

Here’s a curious tale about two very different forms of social protection: one is much loved by researchers, the media and donors, but its charms are debatable; the other is too often shunned by academia, commentators and funders despite holding greater promise and staying-power. We could call them ‘cash transfers’ and ‘social security,’ writes Rasmus Schjoedt.

Let’s look first at cash transfers targeted to ‘the poor,’ both the conditional and ...

Read More

Down the ‘development’ data rabbit hole

STARTING my job at Development Pathways a year ago meant an important change in my career: I started conducting much more (‘raw’) data analysis than I had ever done before. Sure, I had worked with micro- or household level data before on and off, but this was the ‘real thing’: Working with data, all day, every day (ok, ok, most days). Over the course of this year, I have learned three ...

Read More

Tackling exclusion, pensions progress, citizen action: a year in review

2017 has been a busy year for Development Pathways. We have redoubled our efforts to share the experience and knowledge we have gained working on building the strategies and systems needed to ensure evidence-led, inclusive programmes that realise human rights.

Our most-read resources reflect the evidence we have provided on the debate around the proxy means test used in international development to target social protection at people defined as ‘poor’. ...

Read More

Looking afresh at social protection programmes, with a human rights lens

Using a human rights lens to look at how cash transfer programmes are designed and implemented brings a number of considerations into view that would otherwise go unseen. A crucial one is that human rights principles should form an integral part of the key processes of cash transfer programmes and of the various design options to carry these out, writes Alexandra Barrantes.

So…how ...

Read More

How has national ownership of Uganda’s Senior Citizen’s Grant developed?

A visit by Ugandan MPs to London has thrown light on the political economy of social protection, including the circumstances in which a donor-supported programme gains national ownership, writes Alexandra Barrantes.

The delegation of Ugandan MPs representing the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection participated in a visit organised by HelpAge International and Age International to the UK last week. The delegation met with ...

Read More

Five things everybody in development should know about disability

A research project looking at social protection for persons with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries has been a very valuable learning experience for me. It was the first time I have done research on disability, and I found that a lot of my thinking – or lack of thinking – on the topic was based on prejudice or ignorance. Here are five important things I learned, writes Rasmus Schjoedt.

1. An impairment ...

Read More

How a nation can own its social protection strategy: the Case of Mozambique

In Mozambique, there are plans for substantial increases in cash transfers, as the government attempts to fulfil its progressive social protection strategy approved last year, writes Joe Hanlon.

That strategy calls for expanding cash payments to most older people and small children. Under plans sent to Parliament, cash transfers to the elderly and disabled would rise next year by 84% in Meticais terms and 131% in dollar terms – ...

Read More

How can a social pension underpin an economic development strategy?

Fresh evidence on the impact of social pensions on local economies is contained in a new report published by the Government of Uganda this week. The report is published ahead of a London event on Making the Case for Social Protection with Ugandan MPs.

The report, published by the Ministry ...

Read More

What is the impact of an inclusive pension? Evidence from Uganda

A new paper, presented at a workshop in Kampala, shows potentially very significant Rates of Return for Uganda’s Senior Citizen’s Grant. Depending on the specific assumptions, the SCG, which is an old age pension provided on a universal basis in selected districts, could pay for itself 1.4 times over within a 10 year period, if scaled up across the country – through its effects on education alone.

The paper is the ...

Read More

What ails Kenya’s elections? Thoughts on a way forward

Unfortunately, Kenya’s election is becoming a circus. We had elections on August 8th that were annulled by Supreme Court over irregularities and illegalities. So, we then had another election on October 26th that was boycotted by the leading opposition figure, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and his supporters. Before or immediately after the electoral commission announces the winner – depending on when vote tallying is concluded – the opposition will ...

Read More

No identity crisis for social protection programmes that link with ID agencies

Biometric technology presents a huge opportunity to social protection programmes, in particular the potential to ensure that only eligible programme beneficiaries receive payments. But to fully realise the benefits of biometrics, social protection programmes need to work closely with national identity agencies who are better placed to provide individuals with a unique identity record and can match people with those records, writes Richard Chirchir.

Biometrics – such as fingerprints, voices, faces ...

Read More

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 ...

Read More

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 ...

Read More