Sub-Saharan Africa

Child-sensitive Social Protection in Africa – Challenges and Opportunities

Posted By: • December 14th, 2015

Social protection’ refers to the evolving body of complementary poverty and vulnerability reduction strategies aimed at aiding the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations to improve their management of external economic, social, and natural shocks and risks. Social protection agendas across Africa have gained increasingly significant political attention over the last decade, as governments pursuing the MDGs and other development initiatives have sought to reduce population vulnerabilities in the face of emerging global challenges, shifting demographic patterns, and persistent drivers of inequality and exclusion (Ortiz et al., 2010).

These multi-dimensional vulnerabilities impact children in ways to which social protection policy and programming must remain particularly sensitive, given the impacts that child deprivation can have not only in the present but across children’s life-courses and inter-generationally (Jones and Holmes, 2010). Accordingly, there is a pressing need for a more detailed understanding of the wide variety of social protection policies and programmes that presently exist throughout the continent, and the impacts they have on children – whether they directly target children (e.g. through child-focused cash transfer programmes) or affect them indirectly (e.g. through their family’s involvement in public works programmes).

This report provides a brief synthesis of literature on emerging child-sensitive social protection policy and programming across Africa. It draws on regional, sub-regional, and case-study data to frame a discussion of a number of important dimensions of child-sensitive social protection; maps the impact of current programming on different children’s rights domains throughout the continent; and briefly addresses key issues in child-sensitive social protection targeting, financing, and monitoring and evaluation.

Best practice case studies highlight innovation observed in African practice, and, more broadly, in Asian and Latin American social protection programmes. Lastly, brief policy recommendations are offered in terms of key steps governments and development partners can consider to improve the design, implementation, and knowledge management of child-sensitive social protection interventions.


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