The State of Social Safety Nets 2018 aims to compile, analyze, and disseminate data and developments at the forefront of the social safety net (SSN)/social assistance (SA) agenda. This edition is distinctive, in that for the first time it describes what happens with SSN/SA program spending and coverage over time, when the data allow such analysis. The State of Social Safety Nets 2018 also features two special themes—social assistance and aging, focusing on the role of old-age social pensions; and adaptive social protection, focusing on what makes SSN systems and programs adaptive to various shocks.
Why does the world need adaptive social protection? Today’s global landscape is fraught with multiple, interconnected, and often devastating shocks. Between 1980 and 2012, the annual frequency of natural disasters increased by 250 percent and the number of people affected increased 140 percent (figure 5.1). Climate change is expected to exacerbate these trends and, without climate-informed development, to push an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 (World Bank 2016b). Forced displacement also has hit record highs; on average, 20 persons were estimated to have fled their homes every 60 seconds in 2016 (UNHCR 2016). In total, more than 64 million people were displaced worldwide by the end of 2015 (figure 5.2). Furthermore, the worst economic and financial shock in recent history materialized less than a decade ago, and the 2014 Ebola outbreak reawakened the global community to the potential devastation of pandemics. Such shocks, their trends, and associated risks are deeply interconnected (see, for example, WEF 2017), creating an environment of heightened complexity for households, policy makers, and practitioners alike to navigate.
This chapter discusses the key features that make SSNs adaptive to various types of shocks, both natural (such as cyclones and droughts) and human-made (such as conflicts and forced displacement). Adaptive social protection instruments are important for people, irrespective of where they are in the life cycle. It sheds light on what adaptability is about and how to achieve it. It also highlights examples of what countries are already doing to make their social protection schemes more flexible and efficient. Some cases include: Fiji, the Phillippines, Domenican Republic, Kenya and Republic of Yemen.