Since August 2020, UNICEF and WFP have been supporting the Governments of Mali, Mauritania and Niger in their social protection response to multiple shocks, through the joint project, 'Responding to COVID-19 through Social Protection Systems in the Sahel'. Originally focused on supporting the three countries in providing short-term social assistance support in response to COVID-19, while contributing to strengthened national social protection systems in the medium to longer term, this joint project has been expanded to responding to the effects of ongoing regional shocks and vulnerability which have been further aggravated by the global food price crisis and other harmful effects stemming from the crisis in Ukraine.
Adequate social protection systems are essential to protect people from the serious social and economic consequences of shocks, however, existing social protection systems are mostly underdeveloped in the Sahel. The global food price crisis, precipitated by the Ukraine crisis and aggravated by regional drivers of vulnerability such as drought, insecurity and the lasting socio-economic effects of COVID-19, has rapidly increased the number of households vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity. Without sustained technical and financial support to strengthen shock-responsiveness and expand social protection systems, national capacities in affected countries will continue to be overwhelmed by the ever-increasing numbers in need and the complex and overlapping shocks that have become a routine to the region.
This joint project is structured around three key outcomes:
- Delivery. Over 3.5 million affected persons receive cash transfers and access complementary services to absorb the social and economic impacts of multiple covariant shocks, as part of national response plans.
- System Strengthening. National social protection systems are strengthened to become more shock-responsive, nutrition-sensitive and child-sensitive.
- Knowledge, evidence and learning. Knowledge and evidence are generated from the project to inform social protection engagement that is shock-responsive and sensitive to nutrition and child protection concerns in the implementing countries, and fragile contexts more generally.
The joint project, 'Responding to COVID-19 through Social Protection Systems in the Sahel', is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and implemented by UNICEF and WFP with the Governments of Mali, Mauritania and Niger.