European Commission - SPaN (2019) Operational Note 3: Stakeholders

This Operational Note is part of the Supplementary Volume of 10 Operational Notes to the Reference Document No 26 on Social Protection across the Humanitarian-Development Nexus. A Game Changer in Supporting People through Crises. It was produced as part of the ‘Guidance Package on Social Protection across the Humanitarian- Development Nexus’ (SPaN). It is the outcome of an initiative jointly led by the European Commission’s Directorate- General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR) with the support of DEVCO Unit 04 and the MKS programme.

About this Operational Note:

This Operational Note explores how social protection can be provided across the humanitarian– development nexus with a specific focus on stakeholders that deliver social protection in both contexts. The note aims to be straightforward and provide practical and operational guidance rather than focus on the theoretical frameworks that underpin working across the humanitarian-development nexus or the ‘nitty gritty’ of specific, individual programme design (covered by other documents listed under references and resources, below. Note also EC 2018a, Section D3. ‘Stakeholders’). Users of the guidance – staff working in EU delegations in developing and fragile / conflict-affected countries but also those in ECHO, DEVCO and NEAR operational desks and EU Member State (MS) practitioners – are increasingly challenged to respond to growing interest in routing humanitarian responses through social protection in order to more quickly, effectively and efficiently meet basic needs following a shock or disaster.

At present there is evidence that using social protection can be faster, more efficient and efficient but this evidence base covers a limited set of country and programme contexts. Furthermore, trade-offs between humanitarian and development objectives are common and it is recognised, especially by practitioners on the ground, that using social protection for shock response is unlikely to be sufficient alone, and should be one part of a broader response. Before shocks happen, social protection is and can be used to reduce people’s exposure to and mitigate the worst impacts of crises – essentially, social protection builds the resilience of poor and vulnerable households.

The guidance note aims to bring staff up to speed on the issue, help them acquire an understanding of the fundamentals (the rationale for deploying social protection across the humanitarian-development nexus, the main opportunities and challenges in seeking to do this, and the principles that might underpin policy and practical responses), and better equip them to tackle specific operational obstacles and barriers. In order to do so, the guidance outlines the circumstances in which social protection can be realised across the humanitarian-development nexus (from here on in, ‘SPaN’) with a specific focus on the incentives, goals, roles and responsibilities, and coordination of different stakeholders. Across the globe and a range of different national contexts, there are many different constellations of stakeholder engagement in SPaN – with varying combinations of government ministries and departments, security and law enforcement organisations, donor agencies, NGOs and CSOs, and private sector actors’ engagement. The note will map out these constellations, identify which might be more or less successful in different circumstances, and suggest what promising actions and forms of coordination might support stronger SPaN.

The note begins by outlining the emerging interest in Social Protection across the Humanitarian – Development Nexus and identifying the core focus of the note, namely, how EU and EU MS staff might work together on social protection in situations of crisis and what sorts of ‘ways of working’ might produce the best results. It then identifies some of the operational challenges in relation to stakeholder roles, responsibilities and coordination that emerge for practitioners seeking to deliver SPaN. The paper then provides practical guidance by demonstrating the lessons learned and promising practices from available case study evidence. Practical tips to support practitioners navigate specific challenging situations (for example when the state is party to a conflict, or has no capacity to respond to a disaster) are interspersed throughout. Outstanding knowledge gaps and questions about stakeholder roles, responsibilities and coordination that need addressing in order to improve SPaN are assessed, before concluding with some underpinning principles and recommendations that can provide an organising framework for future policies and practice.

Note to reader

For updates on SPaN, readers are invited to join two specific communities of practice created to offer a direct link between learning and performance:

• The global, open online community on ‘Social protection in crisis contexts’ on, 

• The unrestricted group, mainly for EU staff members and on ‘Social Protection across the humanitariandevelopment nexus’ on capacity4dev.

These spaces are exclusively designed to collectively and progressively build the knowledge base around the nexus between social protection and humanitarian assistance. Through these groups, readers can share ideas and news, ask questions, share experience through testimonials, upload and access documents, take part in online events, expand your network and much more.

Technical reports
Social Protection Approaches: