Country reviews of social assistance in crises

Mohamed, H., Szyp, C., Thorsen, D., Bellwood-Howard, I., McLean, C., Baur, D., Harvey, P., Lind, J., Longhurst, D., Sabates-Wheeler, R., Slater, R., and Warmington, A.
Publication language
Date published
01 Jun 2021
Impact assessment
Development & humanitarian aid, Impact assessment
Humanitarian Outcomes, Institute of Development Studies (IDS)

This collection brings together brief overviews of the social assistance landscape in eight fragile and conflict-affected settings in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East: Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. These overviews were prepared as part of Better Assistance in Crises (BASIC) Research, a multi-year programme (2020–24) supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK government. BASIC Research aims to inform policy and programming on effective social assistance in situations of crisis, including for those who are experiencing climate-related shocks and stressors, protracted conflict and forced displacement.

Social assistance encompasses social transfers (of cash, supplementary food and vouchers), public works programmes, fee waivers, and subsidies with the primary aim of reducing poverty and vulnerability among people affected by crises. Social assistance programmes often incorporate a variety of other secondary objectives: preventing negative coping and risky behaviours; building human capital; strengthening livelihoods as well as adaptive capacities to withstand the impacts of global climate change; building the state–citizen contract; empowering women and girls; and achieving social justice. In crisis-affected settings, social transfers and public works programmes are the most important and prevalent types of social assistance interventions. These are directed, coordinated and delivered through a complex architecture that incorporates state agencies and offices, international and non-governmental organisations, civil society, armed groups and other non-state public authorities. Social assistance is provided alongside, and overlaps with, humanitarian aid, including cash, food, vouchers and other basic assistance. In many places, crises persist, as do conditions that are neither peaceful nor in full-blown conflict, often for long periods. Humanitarian aid can become a perennial feature in such contexts.