ODI Series Ep. 3 | Covid-19: crisis as opportunity for urban cash transfers?

This is the third episode of the “Covid-19: a turning point for social protection?” podcast series.

In the months of June and July, the Social Protection Podcast is hosting a special series in partnership with ODI and GIZ. Across six episodes, our guest host Francesca Bastagli, Director of the Equity and Social Policy programme and Principal Research Fellow at ODI, will moderate conversations around the guiding question: “Covid-19: a turning point for social protection?”.

These six episodes are part of an ODI research project, funded by GIZ, on the emerging evidence and learning from social protection measures adopted in the early months, and within the first year, of the onset of the Covid-19 crisis. It asks how effective have social protection responses to Covid-19 to date been, especially for some of those hardest hit, including refugees, women, informal workers and people living in urban areas? What policy features enabled or hindered adequate crisis response? And, while many of the measures are temporary, what potential opportunities and risks do they present for strengthening social protection in the long term?

The ODI-GIZ study covers six thematic areas, each with an accompanying paper. Each week of this podcast special series, Francesca will be joined by the lead author of one of the papers, along with an expert discussant.

This episode looks at social protection in urban contexts since the onset of the pandemic, with a particular focus on social assistance and cash transfers. When Covid-19 hit, existing provision of urban social assistance was limited in many low and middle-income countries. The crisis quickly exposed this gap, with urban dwellers facing a high risk of infection and livelihoods losses as the virus spread. In response to these urgent needs, emergency measures were widely taken to step up assistance in urban areas. How well have these efforts supported urban residents through the crisis so far? Do the Covid-19 measures hold potential to help address gaps in provision in the longer term? What is the emerging evidence and learning for improving future social protection for urban dwellers?

This episode was inspired by the ODI-GIZ project thematic paper “Covid-19: crisis as opportunity for urban cash transfers?” by Keetie Roelen, Edward Archibald and Christy Lowe (2021).


Our guests this week are:

  • Keetie Roelen, Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Center for Social Protection at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
  • Ugo Gentilini, Global Lead for Social Assistance, World Bank


Episode links

Entering the City : Emerging Evidence and Practices with Safety Nets in Urban Areas (2015)

Cash in the City : Emerging Lessons from Implementing Cash Transfers in Urban Africa (2021)

Webinar recording - Taking stock at the one-year mark: social protection during COVID-19 and beyond


Other episodes in this series

ODI series Ep. 1 | Social protection provisions to refugees during the Covid-19 pandemic

ODI Series Ep. 2 | National cash transfer responses to Covid-19: operational lessons

ODI Series Ep. 4 | Have social protection responses to Covid-19 undermined or supported gender equality?

ODI Series Ep. 5 | ODA financing for social protection: lessons from the Covid-19 crisis response

ODI Series Ep. 6 | Covid-19 crisis: opportunities and risks for extending social protection to informal workers