Written by Marina Andrade, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG)


Mozambique is one of the countries with the highest exposure to natural hazards such as cyclones, floods, and cyclical droughts. The occurrence of these extreme events has become increasingly frequent due to climate change. At the same time, the country has one of the highest poverty levels in the world, with most people living below the international poverty line of USD1.90/day, and one of the lowest human development levels, ranking 181st out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index. Armed conflict and violence in the northern provinces of the country aggravate the fragile situation of families, who often flee their homes to safeguard their personal safety but who may face other risks as internally displaced persons, such as malnutrition or disease. Fragility of the population in enduring climate or economic shocks, civil unrest and displacement tends to be exacerbated by limitations in the shock-responsiveness capacity of the social protection system.

A shock-responsive social protection system is one that is able to respond flexibly during or after a covariate shock. It must ensure social protection reaches and supports what might be large numbers of people affected by it at the same time in a community or country, while the shock might also be limiting the capacity of the social protection system itself to respond and deliver assistance. The level of scalability of the social protection system, and the extent to which underlying administrative systems and structures can be rapidly leveraged to respond to crises and bring timely and adequate support to all families in need, is a key shock-responsiveness feature of these systems.

The Direct Social Support Programme - Post Emergency (PASD-PE) was adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Mozambique. It was at the centre of the national Social Protection Response Plan to COVID-19, which included two main fronts, as mapped by the IPC-IG and partners’ Social protection responses to COVID-19 in the Global South Online Dashboard. A vertical expansion, which provided three months of additional transfers to beneficiaries of the Basic Social Subsidy Programme (PSSB), Productive Social Action Programme (PASP) and the Direct Social Support Programme (PASD) Food Basket, and a horizontal expansion via the PASD-PE, which was set to provide bimonthly cash transfers over six months to around 1.1 million poor and vulnerable households in urban, peri-urban and border areas of the country.

Recent social protection emergency responses implemented in Mozambique in recent years, including to the COVID-19 crisis, have shed light on a range of aspects concerning the shock-responsiveness of the social protection system, as briefly discussed below.

Timeliness and coordination

Timeliness of assistance is a key concern for social protection in Mozambique as it is seen as one of the determinants of effectiveness of shock-responsiveness. The different roll-outs of the PASD-PE consistently faced delays in delivering transfers to beneficiaries. Lean season benefits started to be disbursed four years after the start of implementation of the first edition of the programme in 2016. After cyclones Idai and Kenneth in early 2019, disbursements did not start until September 2020. And after the COVID-19 state of emergency was declared in early 2020, disbursements only started in December 2020 and were still ongoing by late 2022.

Coordination among sectors involved still challenge the timely delivery of emergency social protection transfers in Mozambique. The National Basic Social Security Strategy II (ENSSB II) is considered a crucial framework to promote coordination of efforts at an institutional level and for actors and sectors involved to put in place more effective social protection responses to crises. According to the strategy and more recent experiences, it is necessary to widen and consolidate institutional coordination between the National Institute for Social Action – Public Institute (INAS-IP) and the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD).


Under coordination of the INGD, a multisectoral working group on early warning systems has recently established an early warning system for droughts in Mozambique, the Sistema de Aviso Prévio à Seca (SAP-Seca), with technical and financial support from WFP. It monitors the forecast and issues alerts indicating the severity of drought-related events. Along with the early warning system, the working group has been developing local plans for anticipatory actions (AAs), aligned with the forecast-based financing approach. The plans lay out AAs that aim to mitigate the negative effects of the lean season before they occur, to reduce the need for post-shock interventions. Despite having been included in the local AA plans of four districts, this system has not yet been activated or tested, nor has the GoM secured funding that can be accessed by the social sector.


In Mozambique, funds from external donors constitute a significant proportion of the resources used in financing social protection in recent years, especially for shock response. External funding of the social sector is considered crucial for emergency response, recovery, and reconstruction efforts in Mozambique, since annual budget allocations to the sector have at times been insufficient to fully cover expenses estimated in annual contingency plans, and donor resources can be used to cover this deficit. A lack of fiscal space available to finance the COVID-19 Social Protection Response Plan, for example, led to a dependence on external financing to implement it, albeit with external funds having been secured only for the first phase of implementation of the plan by the time it was finalised and approved in the first half of 2020. The Response Plan was mostly funded from external resources, while government resources for the sector remained allocated to the INAS-IP’s regular social protection programmes, which were also scaled up due to the crisis as part of the plan.

Social protection expenditures have to continue to increase in the coming years to only get closer to the strategic goal set by the GoM in 2016 to be achieved in 2024. The ENSSB II 2016–2024 recommended increasing social protection expenditures to 2.23 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) until 2024. However, in 2021, the budget for the sector represented 0.94 per cent of GDP, a level still considered low in comparison to the target set in the strategy, which will be completed in the coming two years.

Targeting and Coverage

Even with coverage having tripled during the COVID-19 response, the social protection system continues to leave millions of families uncovered, including in emergency SP responses. The COVID-19 social protection response aimed to reach 1.7 million households or roughly 8.9 million people, equivalent to 28 per cent of the population. However, the increased coverage was temporary and did not translate into more beneficiaries in the regular social protection programmes, mainly due to government financial and human resource constraints.

The selection of beneficiaries for the PASD-PE COVID-19 was based on geographical targeting and additional vulnerability criteria for household composition and members’ characteristics. The selection of the geographical areas to be targeted was based on the multidimensional poverty index that had been developed by the MEF based on the 2017 census.

Registration, enrolment, and data management

In the roll-outs of the PASD-PE that preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, programme coverage was relatively small, and enrolment of beneficiaries was either done via (i) the use of existing beneficiary lists, obtained from the INGD, international humanitarian actors or INAS-IP community-based structures, or (ii) with support from implementing partners, such as WFP, whose SCOPE system had been used in various instances to enrol households in emergency response programmes in Mozambique. However, for the COVID-19 social protection response, enrolment was, for the first time, done involving the use of nationally owned systems such as the Beneficiaries Information System (Sistema de Informação de Beneficiários—SIB) and e-INAS.


The ENSSB II’s Operational Plan established that PSSB and PASP benefits should correspond to 100 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively, of the national poverty line in 2017. In the following year, Decree 47/2018 determined that benefits of income transfer programmes may be adjusted annually by the Council of Ministries following a proposal from the ministry that oversees social services. Further, Decree 59/2018 revised the transfer values for the PSSB, PASP and PASD Food Basket, as follows:

PSSB transfers were set at between MZN540 for a one-person household and MZN1,000 per month for a five-member household.
PASP transfers were set at MZN1,050 per month.

PASD Food Basket transfers were set at MZN1,650 per month.

The benefit amounts of these programmes have not been revised again since 2018. While previous PASD-PE editions monthly household benefits had been set at MZN2,500, the maximum benefit value established by law for the PASD-PE, the benefit of PASD-PE COVID-19 was reset at MZN1,500 by the GoM to allow for a coverage increase.


The GoM outsourced payments to avoid overburdening INAS-IP staff, understanding its own operational constraints to provide cash in hand for a large number of beneficiaries, however, payments reportedly suffered delays. Despite efforts by the GoM to avoid overburdening INAS-IP staff with payment processes, implementation of the PASD-PE COVID-19 unveiled the INAS-IP’s existing operational capacity limitations in delivering payments.

Communication and outreach

The outreach mechanism described in the PASD-PE manual reflects climate emergency contexts and not necessarily epidemics. Outreach procedures foreseen in the PASD-PE manual failed to consider the exceptional circumstances resulting from an infectious disease epidemic.

Also, a substantial proportion of beneficiaries not aware of the objectives of registration procedures, and other programme aspects such as benefit level, frequency of payments, programme duration and exact location of delivery

Monitoring and evaluation

SI-M&A is available only in provincial capitals and in the districts of Maputo. In 2017, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Action’s M&E system (Sistema de Monitoria e Avaliação—SI-M&A) was launched to capture implementation data at district level and channel them to provincial and central levels. However, it has limited geographical reach.

Need to strengthen the grievance system, including complaints and feedback mechanisms and case management. In practice, it has been the community leaders and Permanentes themselves who receive the complaints or other grievances from the people. This dynamic is not considered ideal, given that it is likely to discourage people from filing complaints against those same community leaders and the work for which they are responsible in the community. The e-INAS module for grievance management has not yet been activated, but once active it is expected to improve the efficiency of the current grievance redress system.


IPC-IG and WFP. (Forthcoming). “Shock-Responsive Social Protection in Mozambique”. Research Report. Brasília and Maputo: International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth and World Food Programme Mozambique.

IPC-IG. 2021. Social Protection Responses to COVID-19 in the Global South: Online Dashboard. https://socialprotection.org/social-protection-responses-covid-19-global...


This post is part of the ‘COVID-19 Social Protection response series’, a 12-piece blog series featuring discussions based on data and evidence from the interactive dashboard ‘Social protection responses to COVID-19 in the Global South’, developed by the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) in partnership with SPACE and sponsored by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and UNDP Brazil. The dashboard illustrates part of the data compiled in the COVID-19 tracking matrix and provides detailed insights into countries’ social protection responses to the crisis, working as a repository of experiences and government practices in shock-responsive social protection taking place in developing countries worldwide. Its indicators are divided into seven thematic sections: overview of responses, type of adaptation, timeliness, identification of beneficiaries and application tools; delivery mechanisms; coverage; and adequacy of benefits. This blog series is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australia.

Social Protection Programmes: 
  • Social assistance
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Policy
    • Coverage
    • Expenditure and financing
    • Governance and coordination
    • Monitoring and evaluation systems
  • Programme design
    • Targeting
  • Programme implementation
    • Benefits payment / delivery
    • Enrolment / registration
    • Informations Systems (MIS, Social Registry, Integrated Registry)
    • Outreach / communications and awareness
Social Protection Approaches: 
  • Shock-responsive social protection
  • Social protection systems
  • Mozambique
The views presented here are the author's and not socialprotection.org's