Social Safety Nets Primer
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This series is intended to provide a practical resource for those engaged in the design and implementation of safety net programs around the world. Readers will find information on good practices for a variety of types of interventions, country contexts, themes and target groups, as well as current thinking on the role of social safety nets in the broader development agenda.
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Strengthening Public Safety Nets from the Bottom Up(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-01) Weigand, ChristinePublic safety nets in developing countries address the vulnerability of the poor and the near-poor to income disruption, but such formal programs do not operate in a vacuum. Private and informal mechanisms may already exist. The design of public interventions requires a clear understanding of what mechanisms are already available and how (and to what extent) individuals and households use them to cope with income fluctuations. This note surveys some of those design considerations.
Food-Based Safety Nets and Related Programs(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-01) Weigand, ChristineFood-based safety net programs provide food, either directly, or through instruments (such as food stamps or coupons) that may be used to purchase food. More generally, these programs serve a variety of purposes and are designed to ensure livelihoods, to increase purchasing power, or to relieve deprivation and improve nutritional status, perhaps through the direct provision of food.
Incentives and the Role of Institutions in the Provision of Social Safety Nets(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-01) Weigand, ChristineThe institutional environment can determine the effectiveness and efficiency of social safety net programs. An otherwise perfectly designed program may fail if it does not take into account the role of the different institutional actors, and the incentives they face in the implementation and delivery of the program. Thus, incentive structures-between sponsors (i.e., governments) and providers, and between providers and their clients-play an important role in determining the success of a social safety net program. The biggest challenges in countries with fully developed institutions tend to be: 1. Optimizing program mix: With many and very sophisticated programs, it is crucial to determine the 'right' program mix and reduce overlap and conflicts between social programs. Regular monitoring and evaluation play a central role in achieving this. 2. Deciding on the degree of devolution: Local authorities can be better informed and more accountable to their local constituencies. Nevertheless, the devolution of certain policy decisions not only requires a certain level of capacity at the local level, but must also be based on an explicit, clearly defined contract between the central and local governments.
What Role for Safety Net Transfers in Very Low Income Countries?(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-01) Weigand, ChristineIn countries where large parts of the population live in absolute poverty, the need for social safety nets may be greatest, but the capacity to fund and administer them can be severely constrained. What role can social safety net programs play in very low income countries (VLICs)? Three major challenges must be faced when deciding what programs would be feasible in a VLIC: Availability of information; Administrative capacity; and, Affordability. Some special considerations of certain types of interventions apply in the specific context of VLICs: Cash transfers; Food and nutrition programs; and, Agricultural inputs. Given the need to strike a balance between investments for growth and transfers - both compete for scarce public resources - it may be helpful to follow these steps when deciding on the type and scope of social safety net programs: Re-examine the main constraints to growth and the role of public investment policy; Conduct a vulnerability assessment and identify the main risks confronting poor people; and, Identify policy interventions that have a potential both for reducing vulnerability and for enhancing growth prospects.