Ripple effects of the war in Ukraine: What role can 'adaptive' social protection play to prepare for and respond to anticipated global price shocks and hunger?


With the global pandemic not being over yet, the next shock is already around the corner: skyrocketing prices in energy and food resulting from the war on Europe’s borders. As the most important producer of energy and staple crops such as wheat and corn, a supply failure from Russia would lead to severe shortages and consequent hikes in prices globally. Same goes for the suspension of wheat production in Ukraine as one of the world’s biggest producers. As prices could increase up to 20 percent in a severe scenario, the most vulnerable countries and their population will be hit particularly hard. FAO forecasts suggest that the most pronounced increase in undernourished people would remain in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by sub-Saharan Africa and the Near East, and North Africa. With little capacity to cope, households in poverty but also parts of the middle-income class might become dependent on international humanitarian assistance.

Before this emergency scenario becomes a reality, a lot can be done in terms of prevention: An increasing number of countries have systems in place that can prevent a mass dependency on humanitarian assistance. Well-designed ‘adaptive’ social protection systems can flexibly distribute cash to those who need it the most and top-up existing benefits – ahead of time and where markets keep functioning. Similarly, public works programmes can provide people with temporary income and can prepare for a food and fuel crisis by focusing on agricultural activities and diversification. Seeds and agricultural assets can be distributed alongside cash, where it makes sense. Increased use of home-grown school feeding can prevent adverse effects on children’s development. To be able to distribute these support measures wisely and timely, investments in social protection systems are needed now – especially in countries that will be most-affected.

As food systems are already under immense pressure from the effects of Covid-19 and climate change, investing in systems that prevent a hunger crisis and social unrest is an investment in the future.

The event was devised to:

  • Provide a background of what the current scenarios for low- and middle-income countries look like, including some data-informed simulations of which countries may be most affected – and a quick reminder of previous food and fuel crisis impacts

  • Outline what adaptations in national social protection systems and programmes have proven to be powerful tools to complement humanitarian action as well as broader macroeconomic measures and efforts to diversify food supply

  • Discuss the most pressing investments and measures to strengthen the adaptability of social protection systems now, so a large-scale humanitarian crisis could be cushioned



Opening: Dr. Tania Vorwerk, Director Global Health, Pandemic Prevention and One Health, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Framing: Holger Matthey, Senior Economist with the Markets and Trade Division, FAO 



Sarah Laughton, Chief Social Protection Unit, WFP

Ugo Gentilini, Global Lead for Social Assistance, World Bank

Sam Muradzikwa, Chief Social Policy Section, UNICEF Ethiopia 

Marco Knowles, Senior Social Protection Officer with the Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division, FAO


Moderator: Edward Archibald, Independent social protection consultant and Lead Technical Adviser of STAAR (Social Protection Technical Assistance, Advice and Resources)


This is the sixth webinar in the "ASPects – Practice Exchange on ASP" series. These webinars are dedicated to bringing together practitioners, leading experts, and policy makers to share and exchange perspectives on Adaptive Social Protection (ASP). Each webinar within the series will focus on specific practically relevant aspects of one related ASP Building Block (Institutional arrangements and partnerships - Programs - Data and information - Finance). The series, organised by the GIZ Global Program Social Protection Innovation and Learning (SPIL) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with and other partners, aims at informing the global public policy dialogue on building back better systems and better preparedness for future shocks.