Adaptive Social Protection in Southern Africa

The countries of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) - Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa are exposed to climatic shocks, especially drought, that pose a continual threat to lives and livelihoods across the subregion. The pandemic has compounded these existing vulnerabilities. Climatic shocks such as these tend to affect the poorest most, exacerbating inequalities and increasing poverty. Food insecurity, which is chronic in the subregion and both a root cause of vulnerability to drought and an outcome of it also increased as a result of impacts from the pandemic. Social safety net programs can help poor and vulnerable households manage the risks they face from shocks, helping to mitigate the impacts on poverty and food insecurity, but their effectiveness can be constrained in several ways. The mobilization of social protection in response to COVID-19 and the challenges that have emerged to that mobilization have strengthened the case for investments in preparedness ahead of future shocks. Adaptive social protection refers to an agenda for preparing social protection systems to improve their response to shocks and to build the resilience of poor and vulnerable households. This report takes stock of ASP in four of the five SACU countries and provides targeted recommendations for each country’s development.