Designing and Implementing Social Transfer Programmes

Around the world, developing countries are increasingly recognising the value of social transfer programmes in reducing extreme poverty, with success stories in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI) and HelpAge International, together with the UNU-MERIT/ Maastricht Graduate School of Governance and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) are offering a two-week course including a number of specialised modules aimed at providing participants with an in-depth understanding of the conceptual and practical issues involved in the development of social transfer programmes. Participants have an option to take each week as standalone courses, thus it is possible to attend the first-week core course only or one of the second-week specialised topic electives.  The course will take place in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 1 - 12 October 2018.

The course aims to build the capacity of government policymakers and officials, representatives from bilateral and multilateral agencies, programme practitioners, researchers, project managers and staff members from nongovernmental organisations. The course will serve those who want to more effectively design, implement and manage social transfer programmes with the goal of reducing poverty and better achieving the Sustainable Developmental Goals. At the end of the course, the successful participant will better understand the comprehensive approach to social protection and how appropriate social protection instruments can reduce poverty and vulnerability and promote developmental outcomes. The course will reinforce the skills required to identify, design and implement effective social protection programmes.  Over the years, the course has attracted over 1200 participants from over 40 nationalities and diverse professional backgrounds including business, public policy, and NGO’s. The diversity in the classroom enables interaction with a wide range of perspective and creates a global experience for participants on the programme. A team of international experts, skilled professionals and leaders in the social protection field will teach the course, allowing participants to engage them and collaborate with a network of like-minded peers, in person. The certificated course will be jointly accredited by the UNU-MERIT/ Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, HelpAge International and the Economic Policy Research Institute. 

What the course will cover 
The course includes a coordinated series of theme-oriented sessions, practical skills-building workshops, field trips to visit social protection sites and relevant technical skills training. The course will be taught using formal lectures, practical case studies and hands-on exercises. Topics will include: 

  • The role of social protection in reducing poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion
  • The identification of appropriate social protection instruments for specific country contexts
  • The design of social protection and cash transfer programmes
  • Implementation issues, including registration, targeting, payment and information systems
  • Monitoring and evaluation approaches for social protection systems
  • Case studies of successful programmes around the world
  • Field trips to see South Africa’s social protection system in action 

Choose a specialisation

During the second week of the course, participants choose one intensive five-day module on a specialised topic. The specialised modules can be taken as part of the two-week course or as stand-alone courses. Offerings may vary based on demand and enrolment numbers, but typical options include: 

Social Protection Policy
This module exposes the participants to the policymaking process for social protection. Drawing on case studies and policymaking theory, participants will discuss the different components of policy documents, taking into consideration the political economy, policy-relevant evidence, and other contextual issues. The module equips participants with a framework for developing and analyzing social protection policies and lets them view such policies from an international perspective. 

Financial Inclusion and Economic Opportunity: Linkages to Social Protection
This module provides participants with an in-depth and practical understanding of how new and existing social transfer programmes can be designed and implemented so as to promote livelihoods, increase financial inclusion, and achieve developmental outcomes. The module will detail successful international case studies and this will be applied to an evidence building framework to identify workable approaches for different country contexts. 

Monitoring and Evaluating Social Protection Programmes
This course offers its participants an in-depth practical understanding of how monitoring and impact assessment can be used to evaluate programme success. Participants will consider alternative monitoring and evaluation designs including quantitative, qualitative and integrated approaches. They will study evidence-building pilots as tools for policy innovation, how evidence from monitoring and evaluation exercises can be communicated to key decision makers to build support for programmes, and the use of technology to improve M&E outcomes.  

Ageing and Pension Systems

With the number of people aged 60 and over expected to triple by 2050 to almost 2 billion, this module focuses on how social protection systems will adapt to an ageing population in the world. The module will include an introduction to the demographic context, key factors affecting old age vulnerability and conceptual models around the roles of different elements of the pension system including contributory and non-contributory schemes. The module equips participants with knowledge on the design, implementation and sustainability of pension systems.

How to apply 

Admission is on a rolling basis. Early application is strongly advised and discounts are available to participants who completed application is received before the prescribed early bird discounts deadlines. All applications should be submitted through the online Application Form on the Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI) website:

For more information about the course, please visit our course website:

Please contact the course coordinator for any queries: