Input or outcome?
lessons from designing and implementing safety net
programs to build resilience of poor people and
Dr Rachel Slater
Presentation prepared for
Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security
15-17 May , 2014
• Context – why social protection and resilience?
• Is it specific types of social protection instruments
themselves, or specific features of the programme
design, or elements of programme implementation
that have resulted in enhancing people’s resilience?
- Meket Livelihoods Development Programme (MLDP) in
- Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia
- Northern Uganda Social Action Fund 2 (NUSAF2) in
- Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) in Kenya
- Protracted Relief Programme (PRP) in Zimbabwe
‘People are more resilient to the
extent that they are able to meet
more of their needs and have security
that they will be able to meet future
needs (access to health, education,
water, sanitation, shelter) even in the
face of modest shocks and stresses..’
Slater et al 2013
Input or outcome?
Social protection and resilience
Social protection can play two linked but discrete roles in
assisting households or people to meet their needs:
• Enhancing livelihoods: social protection is an instrument
that over time helps people build their ability to cope
independently i.e. without assistance. (For example, social
protection programmes may enable households to increase
assets that either enable them to earn enough or which
they can use to buffer themselves against shocks and
• Guaranteeing consumption or support during difficult
times: social protection can ensure that people’s basic
consumption needs are met. Beyond this it can give people
increased freedom from exploitation or from a need to
engage in distress strategies if it gives them security, i.e. if
they know in advance that they can rely on such social
protection in times of crisis.
What features contribute to
• combining instruments or linking explicitly to other
• longer programme duration allowing beneficiaries to
receive transfers (and other support) over a longer
• capability to increase the level of benefits received
during shock events such as drought..
• using a clear and realistic logic for achieving
• adaptation / flexibility matters
What challenges undermine resilience
through social protection?
• Unrealistic expectations of asset accumulation given
the duration, type and level of transfers.
• Shocks, especially food price inflation.
• Too limited a range of options for investments in
• Imbalance between the objective of maintaining
consumption and that of promoting asset
Making it real:
Priorities for policy-makers
Q: What really matters for achieving resilience?
A: A meaningful level of transfer, for a reasonable
duration of time, in a reliable way, at the right time of
Have we ever given basic social transfers a chance?
• Avoid the general tendency across all the programmes
to underestimate the complexity of graduation /
resilience programming and to oversell what the
programmes can deliver. (Note: overselling has
tended to have taken place not at the local /
programme level but at donor agencies headquarters
where expectations have increased and become
• How? Concentrate on getting the basic programme
right - having as few objectives as possible; using
simple social transfer instruments only with no ‘add-
ons’, delivering on time and when you say you will.