Social protection and rural transformation in Africa

This article develops a conceptual framework on pathways through which non-contributory social protection can contribute to a resilient and inclusive agricultural growth in rural Africa. It draws insights from a review of rigorous empirical evidence on the impacts of cash transfers and multifaceted cash plus programs on range of relevant productive outcomes, including: accumulation of productive assets; inputs and farm management practices; off-farm labour and non-farm enterprises; and farm production and income.

The review demonstrates an emerging consensus in the literature that access to social protection programs contributes positively to increasing the productive asset holdings of rural people, increased use of improved inputs and farm practices, and a shift away from casual wage labour arrangements. Moreover, there is limited evidence on heterogeneous effects across different baseline characteristics (income, sex, labor-constrained households, among others).

Finally, the article highlights how social protection programs should be considered an integral part of broader rural and agricultural development strategies in order to achieve a more productive, resilient, and equitable rural transformation in rural Africa.