(2020) ADAPTIVE SOCIAL PROTECTION The delivery chain and shock response

T his paper outlines the ways in which governments can make use of and adapt operational systems and processes for delivering cash transfer programs to support shock response. Governments, development partners, and humanitarian actors have become interested in adaptive social protection (ASP) and shock-responsive social protection (SRSP) largely out of recognition that shocks, particularly natural disasters, are increasing in frequency and severity, and climate change is predicted to exacerbate these trends. Much of the global experience related to ASP before 2020 came in responding to such natural disasters, and it forms the primary focus of this paper. Of course, in 2020 governments across the world have had to respond to an unprecedented global shock—the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic—which has brought a remarkable surge in their use of social protection to mitigate the social and economic impacts of the crisis. As of June, 195 countries or territories had planned or introduced social protection measures in response to COVID-19. Cash transfers have been a huge part of this, with social safety nets accounting for 60 percent (representing 621 measures) of the social protection response, of which over 50 percent were cash transfers. Interventions have included vertical and horizontal expansion of existing programs, adaptations to the design of existing programs to make them more accessible and effective, and the introduction of new programs using social protection administrative systems (Gentilini et al. 2020). As these responses are in their early stages, the inclusion of lessons learned from them in this paper would be premature. Experiences to date, however, highlight that, while the specific challenges posed by COVID-19 may differ from those presented by other shocks (not least the constraints imposed by social distancing on the implementation of each phase of the delivery chain), the key principles and considerations set out for policymakers in this document—emphasizing flexible and robust systems, the need to balance speed and accuracy, and the adaptations that are needed along the chain—are just as pertinent. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has cemented even more firmly the imperative for governments and partners to invest in ASP delivery systems as a key factor of resilience building

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