Written by Charlotte Bilo, João Pedro Dytz and Lucas Sato, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG)


COVID-19 has affected all countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  Particularly groups already vulnerable before the crisis, such as children, were affected. Estimations indicate that the pandemic added almost 10 million children into poverty; school closures caused almost 100 million children to be out-of-school and lockdowns increased the risk of violence against women and children (UNICEF 2021).

Social protection (SP) can promote children’s well-being and reduce the crisis´ negative impacts on them, especially if their needs and vulnerabilities are taken into account. Against this background, the IPC-IG and UNICEF MENARO partnered to conduct a rapid assessment (Bilo, Dytz and Sato. forthcoming) which analyses the main design and implementation features as well as the child-sensitiveness of the social assistance measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 crisis in the MENA region.

For the assessment, responses implemented by the 20 countries in the region since the outbreak of the pandemic until 30 March 2021 were considered, drawing on IPC-IG’s "SP responses to COVID-19 in the Global South” dashboard. In addition, social assistance measures provided by UN agencies (UNICEF, UNHCR, UNRWA, WFP) in nine MENA countries facing humanitarian crisis situations were analysed (Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria, State of Palestine and Yemen). Table 1 provides an overview of the main design and implementation features as well as the key recommendations.


Table 1. Overview of social assistance responses to COVID-19: main findings and recommendations



To assess the extent to which children’s specific needs and vulnerabilities were taken into account, the responses were analysed against 6 criteria. The findings and main recommendations are further detailed in Table 2.


Table 2. Child-sensitive assessment: main findings and recommendations



  • Bilo, Dytz and Sato. Forthcoming. Child-Sensitiveness of Social Protection Responses to Covid-19 in MENA. Brasília and Amman: International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth and UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa.
  • UNICEF. 2021. Middle East & North Africa Region COVID-19 Situation Report No. 13. United Nations Children’s Fund. 


This post is part of the ‘COVID-19 Social Protection response series’, a 12-piece blog series featuring discussions based on data and evidence from the interactive dashboard ‘Social protection responses to COVID-19 in the Global South’, developed by the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) in partnership with SPACE and sponsored by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and UNDP Brazil. The dashboard illustrates part of the data compiled in the COVID-19 tracking matrix and provides detailed insights into countries’ social protection responses to the crisis, working as a repository of experiences and government practices in shock-responsive social protection taking place in developing countries worldwide. Its indicators are divided into seven thematic sections: overview of responses, type of adaptation, timeliness, identification of beneficiaries and application tools; delivery mechanisms; coverage; and adequacy of benefits. This blog series is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australia.

Programmes de protection sociale : 
  • Social assistance
  • Social insurance
  • Labour market / employment programmes
Fondations de la protection sociale: 
  • Policy
    • Coverage
    • Expenditure and financing
    • Governance and coordination
  • Programme design
    • Benefits design
    • Targeting
  • Programme implementation
    • Benefits payment / delivery
Approcjes de la protection sociale: 
  • Child-sensitive social protection
Domaines transversaux: 
  • Child Protection
  • Education
  • Food and nutritional security
  • Health
    • COVID-19
  • Middle East & North Africa
Les points de vue présentés ici sont les auteurs et non ceux de socialprotection.org