The ‘Aligning Public Employment Programmes and Adaptive Social Protection’ webinar took place on 5 December 2019. The event was organised by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Social Protection for Employment Community (SPEC). This session was dedicated to sharing experiences in linking public employment programmes (PEP) to adaptive social protection, in the attempt to build resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable people to climate change. In this context, the webinar aimed to share the main findings and ways forward from the Global Practitioner’s Knowledge Exchange event, organised in New Delhi, India, in March 2019, through the release of the report Global Practitioners’ Knowledge Exchange on Public Employment Programmes and their Application in Adaptive Social Protection: Documentation of experiences, learning and way forward.

The session was moderated by Rajeev Ahal (Director of Natural Resource Management, GIZ India), who was joined by speakers N.H. Ravindranath (Centre for Sustainable Technologies Indian Institute of Science), Nikos Nikolidakis (Programme Component Manager Africa/ Asia Global Alliances for Social Protection, GIZ), and by the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Programme Team (Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India).

You can watch the webinar recording here and access the webinar presentation here.

Aligning Public Employment Programmes and Adaptive Social Protection

Adaptive Social Protection is conceptualized as a series of measures aimed to build resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable people to climate change by combining elements of social protection, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Initiatives to promote adaptation through social protection include:

Public employment programmes (PEPs) are designed as labour-intensive infrastructure development initiatives aimed to provide cash transfers, food-based payments, livelihood generation, etc. These interventions can be linked to adaptive social protection by offering a safety net to vulnerable communities, and by promoting resilience through livelihood diversification. Examples of four different programmes designed to act within the synergies of PEPs and adaptive social protection are briefly explained below:

  1. Productive Safety Nets Programme, Ethiopia

A comprehensive programme primarily focusing on relieving food insecurity, promoting shock resilience and improving livelihoods through providing public works, disaster risk financing and cash transfers, covering around 8 million people.

  1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, India

An Act ensuring guaranteed employment up to 100 days in a year to any rural Indian family, willing to do unskilled manual labour, which covers around 128.5 million families.

  1. MASAF Public Works Programme, Malawi

Public Works Programme to support income generation, asset creation and cash transfers, covering 450,000 families.

  1. Program Trabaja Perú, Peru

Public Employment Programme designed to create temporary jobs and develop productive capacities of the unemployed and underemployed population in rural and urban areas of Peru. Coverage is of around 50,000 individuals.


The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act passed the Indian parliament in 2005 and intended to enhance livelihood security in rural India by providing up to 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a year to every rural Indian household whose adult members are willing to do unskilled manual labour. It reaches about 128,5 million households, representing 30,8% of India’s rural population with an amount of USD 78,49 billion spent from 2006 -2019 and an average wage rate of USD 2,5 per day. The main MGNREGA contributions to enhancing water management and sustainable livelihoods include more than 250 permissible works schemes, drought proofing works and major water conservation programmes and state-level programmes in the scope of the MGNREGA.

There is a continuously growing number of works taken up by the scheme, with an expected progress to 22 million works by the end of the 2019-2020 period. Simultaneously, the amount of investment made in natural resource management works has also been growing, with the provision of USD 6.2 to be spent by the end of the same period.

Under de MGNREGA scheme, there are four categories of work which can be done:

Among the main works for drought proofing, there are water conservation and harvesting, renovation of traditional water bodies and micro-irrigation works. In the financial year of 2018-19, 910,735 families completed 100 days, and 715,100 families worked for 101-150 days across India, while 100.02 million dollars was spent on drought proofing.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) offers a positive example in linking adaptive social protection to public employment, which has further been supported by the Indo-German project WASCA (Water Security and Climate Adaptation in Rural India). The project is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Jal Shakti (water empowerment) in India. 

The project is operational from April 2019 – March 2022 and is aimed to improve integrated water resource management in rural areas in order to enhance water security and climate adaptation at the national level and in four Indian States (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu), covering various agro-climatic zones and water-related issues. It was organized in three main outputs:


MGNREGA has also undertaken activities regarding geo-tagging of MGNREGA assets and the Geographical Information System (GIS) planning of works, based on information and images from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The GIS based planning approach was demonstrated by the Indo-German project, who further supported in capacity building and mainstreaming the process countrywide. Currently, more than 14,000 local governments are using this approach technique, with structures being pre-planned and designed in an efficient manner. The Programme also created the e-Saksham platform for capacitating technical workforce on GIS based planning and function as a digital learning platform for the MGNREGS.

The main contributions of MGNREGA to building resilience to climate change risks are measured by two main indicators: a) the natural resource conservation, and b) the disaster risk reduction and management. The MGNREGA has also selected resource-impacted indicators to assess resilience and adaption to disaster risks, which relates to the resources impacted, natural resource indicators and activities implemented under the MGNREGA. There are four resources-impacted indicators: Water, Land, Crop Production Systems and Forests, which all count with correspondent activities and work:

Furthermore, by analysing the indicators related to the dams, the irrigation facilities and the irrigation borewells, the resilience impact can be identified. 

There has been a monitoring and measurement of how the implementation of the MGNREGA programme affects agricultural vulnerability, livelihood vulnerability, employment and migration. The average number of days of employment increased in all cities, while there was a reduction in migration in 72% of the villages, mainly due to employment availability locally.

The main challenges in promoting climate resilience to Climatic Disasters through NREGA are:

  1. Lack of access to information/data on: location of specific historical climate trends, monthly seasonal rainfall, drought, flood, high rainfall events etc;
  2. Lack of location (village, panchayat, block) of specific climate change projections data;

                – Rainfall projections, Rainfall Variability, drought, flood occurrence, etc.;

  1. Lack of access to rainfall forecast, seasonal, weekly and fortnightly from IMD;
  2. Lack of capacity to access and use climate and weather forecast data/information

                     – Panchayat level/village level – Block and district level engineers/staff;

  1. Lack of recognition of potential role for NREGA in reducing vulnerability adaptation climate risk;
  2. Lack of toolkit and guidelines to integrate climate, weather forecast data in designing climate resilient assets or infrastructure;
  3. Lack of capacity and tools to mainstream climate/weather data in to designing land, waters, etc. assets or infrastructure.

Among the main lessons learned from implementing a large employment generation program, the most important highlights were:

  1. Social Protection/employment generation programs can be tailored;
  2. It is important to create access to information, data and knowledge for the location/region;
  3. There is a need to build capacity-use climate trends, weather forecasts data in the planning and designing of actions.


Global Alliances for Social Protection

The Global Alliances for Social Protection is a programme implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) that aims to facilitate learning and global exchange on social protection issues. It is operational since 2013 and was created under the framework of the Universal Social Protection (USP) 2030 initiative. Its topics include adaptive social protection, beneficiary registration, public employment programs and social inclusion. Basing itself in this structure and on these topics, this project has reached fifty countries, more than a hundred institutions and there has been over forty events in the last year. Different approaches relating to global exchange are implemented, not only face-to-face events/workshops, but also through Online Communities engagement, participation on webinars and livestreams and publication of documents.


Q&A session

The webinar was closed with a highly interactive Q&A session, which can be accessed here.


This blog post is part of the Linking Social Protection to Sustainable Employment webinar series, which brings together the summaries of webinars organised by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)​ and SPEC on the topic. Please join the Online Community Social Protection for Employment 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!