Accountability in social pension programmes: A baseline mapping of the Old Age Grant in South Africa

In the last decade, social protection has grown in importance as a tool for tackling poverty and inequality and ensuring inclusive growth. Whilst various forms of social protection exist, social pensions have emerged as a key instrument for empowering older people. Social pensions have demonstrated positive impacts on older people’s income, health, dignity and wellbeing, as well as broader impacts on their households and wider community.

The growth in social protection programmes has naturally led to a focus on developing methods of implementation to ensure that programmes are effective and accountable. This is essential not only for reducing fraud, error and corruption, but more importantly to ensure citizen participation in decision making on issues that will impact their lives. This principle applies to any social protection programme, but accountability mechanisms for social pension programmes additionally need to consider particular physiological, social and economic changes that can come with older age.

This report presents the findings of an exploratory study of accountability mechanisms in South Africa’s Old Age Grant (OAG). The purpose of the study was to explore the types of grievances and identify the roles and responsibilities of key actors in making programmes and systems more accountable. By drawing on examples of practice from South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda, the study highlights good practice and challenges for achieving accountability in social pension programmes.