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

This is the sixth and final 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 informal workers and social protection during Covid-19 and beyond. Prior to the crisis, many informal workers were faced with little to no access to social protection and healthcare, insecure earnings and precarious work conditions. This made them especially vulnerable to the health and socioeconomic impacts of Covid-19 as the pandemic developed. What social protection measures have been taken to try to extend provision to informal workers during the crisis? How well have these policy measures and adjustments worked in supporting informal workers over the course of the pandemic? And what trade-offs, risks and opportunities do the crisis and subsequent policy adjustments present for filling historic gaps in social protection for informal workers on a permanent basis?

This episode was inspired by the ODI-GIZ project thematic paper “Extending social protection to informal workers: Emerging lessons from Covid-19 crisis response” by Laura Alfers and Francesca Bastagli (forthcoming).


Our guests this week are:

  • Laura Alfers, Director of the Social Protection Programme, WIEGO
  • Gautam Bhan, Faculty Member, Indian Institute of Human Settlements


Episode links

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

COVID-19, Informal Workers and WIEGO’s Work during this Crisis 

WIEGO: Social Protection Responses to COVID-19

Lessons for Social Protection from the COVID-19 Lockdowns Report 1 of 2: State Relief 


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

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