Revisiting Poverty Trends and the Role of Social Protection Systems in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This paper combines per capita gross domestic product growth from national accounts with data from High-Frequency Phone Surveys for several countries to estimate the net impact of the pandemic on poverty. The paper also finds that countries affected by fragility, conflict, and violence experienced the greatest increases in poverty, about 2.1% in 2020. Furthermore, the paper assesses and synthesizes empirical evidence on the role that social protection systems played in mitigating the adverse impact of the COVID-19 crisis in Africa. It reviews social protection responses in various African countries, mainly focusing on the impact of these programs and the effectiveness of targeting systems. The paper highlights important findings on the impacts of these programs while also uncovering some vulnerabilities in social protection programming in Africa. Finally, the paper draws important lessons related to the delivery, targeting, and impact of various social protection programs launched in Africa in response to the pandemic.