National cash transfer responses to Covid-19: Operational lessons learned for social protection system-strengthening and future shocks

This paper is part of a series: ‘Social protection response to Covid-19 and beyond: lessons learned for adaptive social protection’. You can listen to our Social Protection Podcast episode based on this paper here

Before Covid-19, many countries were engaged in the process of strengthening core social protection systems and exploring ways to develop their shock-responsive capacity. However, these system-building efforts were still nascent in many low- and middle-income countries (LICs and MICs) and even in countries with more developed systems, maintaining and extending provision in response to a shock as vast, sudden and severe as Covid-19 represented a significant operational challenge.

This paper analyses the operational approaches that selected LIC and MIC governments took to maintain existing cash transfer provision and to deliver additional shock-responsive cash assistance during the pandemic in the year 2020. It combines a rapid literature review with case studies on government cash transfer provision during the crisis in four countries: Nigeria, Peru, Sri Lanka and Togo.