Continuing the Shock-Responsive Social Protection Systems Webinar Series, on 23rd March 2017 hosted the webinar “Shock responsive social protection in practice: experiences in Pakistan and the Philippines”. The session was moderated by Valentina Barca (Senior Consultant, OPM), and included presentations by Carol Watson (International Development Consultant) and Gabrielle Smith (International Development Consultant).

The presentation of the webinar can be accessed here, and the video here.  More information about the webinar series can be found at the Social Protection in humanitarian, fragile and risk-prone contexts Online Community. All webinars in this series are joined under the Shock Responsive Social Protection Systems tag.

Valentina opened the session with an overview of the webinar series and the research project. The project, led by OPM, is concerned with the costs of frequent shocks and stresses, particularly on humanitarian systems, and the consideration that in some circumstances it may be more efficient to use a country’s social protection system to provide the necessary response. Valentina introduced the project’s typology - five key ways in which social protection systems may contribute to a response: vertical expansion; horizontal expansion; piggybacking; shadow alignment and refocusing. These were explored further in the subsequent case study presentations.

Carol presented the case study of shock-responsive social protection in Pakistan. Firstly, she began by describing the objectives and research question structuring the case study, that being – what factors enable social protection systems to be responsive to disasters and to deliver effective shock response? Her presentation included discussion of the Pakistani context and its history of cash-based responses, before assessing in particular the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). BISP is Pakistan’s flagship social protection programme, particularly focused on supporting the chronically poor and highly vulnerable. With reference to the project’s typology, Carol demonstrated how BISP has been scaled-up a number of times in response to covariate shocks. This has included vertical expansion in response to an earthquake; piggybacking in response to forced displacement, and horizontal expansion following a bombing in Balochistan. As Carol discussed, each strategy has differing opportunities and challenges. An action-research pilot on piggybacking in Pakistan (IRC) gave positive results with regards to targeting, costs and satisfaction. Carol concluded that whilst there is opportunity to make linkages with BISP, there is a continued need for critical analysis. In particular considering the number of phases involved in disaster-risk management, and context-specific factors.

Gabrielle continued the webinar with the second case study; the Philippines. After introducing the trends of poverty and covariate shocks in the Philippines, Gabrielle focused her presentation on the Pantawid Programme, the Philippines’ flagship social protection programme, and the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan 2013-1014. The Pantawid Programme is centrally implemented by the (DSWD), and is focused on poor households with children. As Gabrielle explained, it played an important role following Typhoon Haiyan. Following the disaster, the World Food Programme ran an emergency cash transfer (ECT) programme, building on top of the Pantawid Programme.  The ECT was centrally implemented through the structure of the Pantawid Programme, this included using the same target group, and transferring the addition cash through the standard payment system. It stands therefore as an example of vertical expansion. As Gabrielle noted, this showed a variety of strengths and weaknesses. It benefited from the credibility of the Pantawid programme, however was hindered by the exclusion and capacity of the central implementation. Gabrielle concluded her presentation by explaining that the potential of institutionalizing either vertical expansion or piggybacking in Philippines is currently being discussed by the World Bank and DSWD.

Following both presentations, Valentina led a question and answer session. The questions raised particularly pertinent issues, including the challenges of using existing databases, and the access and exclusion difficulties they pose. This linked to audience questions regarding funding and collaboration with external actors. The final question of the webinar asked the presenters their opinion on the most effective methods of shock-responsive social protection; Carol drew on her research to answer that it is a combination of methods that is most important, whilst Gabrielle commented that piggybacking holds potential, but it comes down to context and design. Valentina thanked the presenters and audience, and directed those interested in continuing the discussion to join the online community at

Watch the recording of the webinar here!

This blog post is part of the Shock-responsive Social Protection Series, which brings together the summaries of webinars organised by OPM on the topic. Please join the Social protection in crisis contexts online community if you are interested in following the most recent discussions on the topic. If you have any thoughts on this webinar summary, we would love to hear from you. Please add your comments below!

Social Protection Programmes: 
  • All programmes - General
  • Social assistance
    • Social transfers
      • Cash transfers
Social Protection Topics: 
  • Programme design and implementation
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Disasters and crisis
  • Resilience
  • Risk and vulnerability
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • East Asia & Pacific
  • South Asia
The views presented here are the author's and not's


Thanks for this Hannah - a very interesting and thought provoking piece. 

If you or your colleagues would like to learn more about social protection, specifically social transfers, the Economic Policy Research Institute runs annual social protection courses in Cape Town, South Africa and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The courses aim to build the capacity of government policymakers and officials, representatives from bilateral and multilateral agencies, programme practitioners, researchers, project managers and staff members from non-governmental organisations. The course will serve those who want to more effectively design, implement and manage social transfer programmes with the goal of reducing poverty and better achieving the Sustainable Developmental Goals. 

This year, our Cape Town course is taking place 7 - 18 August, and Chiang Mai 2 - 13 October.

Find out more here!