By Abdul Alim (Regional Social Policy Advisor, UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia), Fabio Veras, Rafael Osório and Pedro Arruda (IPC-IG).


Since the early 2000s South Asian countries have been experiencing strong economic growth coupled with a renewed commitment of different governments in the region to tackle poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion through the provision of equal access to basic healthcare, education, decent work and/or sustainable livelihoods. Social protection initiatives have been implemented in many countries as an important enabler to ensure access to services and income security. However, the achievements of such commitments in terms of wellbeing improvement for the region’s population, particularly for the poor and vulnerable has been uneven.

By 2009 UNICEF released a landmark publication taking stock of social protection landscapes in South Asia from a comparative perspective. In that work, programmes were analysed regarding their legal frameworks, funding availability, overall set up and effects as measured by impact evaluations. Ten years later, much has changed in that landscape, and this time UNICEF ROSA has partnered with the IPC-IG to produce a series of papers looking at these social protection features through the following specific studies.

1. Social spending in South Asia: An overview of government expenditure on health, education and social assistance.

2. Overview of non-contributory social protection programmes in South Asia from a Child and Equity Lens.

3. Gender and Social Protection in South Asia: An Assessment of the Design of Non-contributory Programmes.

4. Social protection legislative frameworks in South Asia from a child-rights perspective.

5.  Social assistance programmes in South Asia: an evaluation of socio-economic impacts.

6. Despite having a mostly comparative focus, the studies above are also produced to inform some country specific analysis which are put forth by the following series of prodcuts:

After almost two years of intense bibliographic and field research to most countries of the region, and rounds of validation by multiple stakeholders, we are happy to share with you the results of this partnership between UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA), the UNICEF Country Offices of South Asia and the IPC-IG. We hope these texts can give an overview of the social protection in the region, highlighting set ups that work best to tackle shared challenges across the region, and that this compiled information helps to promote cooperation and institutional learning across the region. We hope this work can also stimulate government and development players to step up covering still existing knowledge gaps that remain at both, the regional and country-specific levels.

Enjoy your reading! 


Check out our complementary series on Covid-responsive social protection landscapes in South Asia! It should be noticed that by the time most the studies listed below were coming out, South Asia and the entire world has been hit by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemics that has triggered sound social protection responses that, at least for the time being, have altered social protection landscapes irreversibly. Because at that time we already had most of the above indicated studies in a very advanced stage, it wouldn’t make sense to revamp all of them to include social protection responses to Covid. Instead, we decided to fast track an additional, complimentary research series entitled UNICEF AND IPC-IG PAPER SERIES ON COVID-RESPONSIVE SOCIAL PROTECTION LANDSCAPES IN SOUTH ASIA. Check it out!

Social Protection Programmes: 
  • Social assistance
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Programme implementation
  • Programme design
Social Protection Approaches: 
  • Social protection systems
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Health
  • Humanitarian assistance
  • South Asia
The views presented here are the author's and not's