Reducing poverty and investing in people : the new role of safety nets in Africa - experiences from 22 countries.
The World Bank Africa Social Protection Strategy for 2012-22 highlights the need for a strong evidence base to inform the design and implementation of social protection programs in Africa. Since 2009 the World Bank has conducted comprehensive social safety net assessments in 22 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The countries reviewed are Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia. The findings of these assessments and other studies of safety net programs were recently synthesized into a regional review. This review provides an assessment of the current status of safety net programs in Africa and presents lessons on how they can be strengthened to better tackle poverty and vulnerability. The review finds that social safety nets are on the rise in Africa, and beginning to evolve from scattered stand-alone programs into safety net systems. Until recently, many African countries approached social protection on a largely ad hoc basis. Then the global economic crisis threatened recent progress in poverty reduction. Now social protection programming has started to develop from emergency food aid programs to one-off safety net interventions, and then to targeted cash transfers and cash-for-work programs. Some countries now seek to consolidate programs into national systems. There is progress towards articulating national social protection strategies, but there is still a long way to go.