Social Protection

IDS research aims to address key challenges to the extension of social protection. In recent years social protection has risen rapidly up the policy agenda of many governments, donors, international organisations and NGOs. A growing body of evidence shows that measures such as cash transfer programmes positively impact people's lives, reducing poverty and vulnerability and strengthening livelihoods.

Social protection - woman on mountainside

However, there remain substantial challenges to the extension of social protection to all people which include:

  • We need to strengthen the linkages between social protection policy and multidimensional approaches to the analysis of poverty, risk and vulnerability.
  • We need open, independent and critical networks to share across regions and countries innovative work on the design, delivery and evaluation of social protection interventions.
  • We need to link research with capacity building and advocacy, in order to support campaigns for the right to social protection, and to ensure that practitioners and policymakers have the information and analytical tools to advocate for social protection effectively and credibly.

IDS also hosts the Centre for Social Protection (CSP), a global hub for research, policy analysis, and capacity building on social protection. CSP advances thinking, policy and practice in social protection by:

  • Creating knowledge about social protection policies and evaluating the impacts of social protection programmes.
  • Mobilising networks of researchers, policymakers and practitioners to exchange knowledge and advocate for change.
  • Strengthening capacities to shape and implement social protection policies.

To contact the CSP team please e-mail

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Photo of Camilla Lindstrom More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

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Photo of Dolf te Lintelo More details

Photo of Edoardo Massett More details

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Photo of Gerry Bloom, Research Fellow of the Knowledge Technology and Society team More details

Jeremy Lind More details

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Photo of Keetie Roelen, Research Fellow in the Centre for Social Protection, IDS More details

Photo of Matteo Caravani, IDS PhD student More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Naomi Hossain, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Patricia Justino, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Rachel Sabates Wheeler More details

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Rômulo Paes de Sousa, Director of the World Centre for Sustainable Development, the Rio+ Centre and Senior International Associate with the IDS Rising Powers in International Development programme More details

Photo of Stephen Devereux, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow More details

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Accelerating Progress in Reducing Hunger and Undernutrition

This programme will focus on how agriculture can deliver better nutrition outcomes by developing evidence-based policy options and tools for businesses, governments, NGOs and donors. More details

Beneficiary and service providers’ perceptions assessment of the Integrated Nutrition and Social Cash Transfer (IN-SCT) Pilot, Ethiopia

The Centre for Social Protection at IDS, in collaboration with Rebret Business and Consultancy, has been asked by UNICEF Ethiopia to undertake a study assessing beneficiary and service provider perceptions and feedback of the Integrated Nutrition – Social Cash Transfer (IN-SCT) pilot in Ethiopia. This represents a qualitative study focusing on programme implementation and impact, particularly focusing on nutrition. More details

Burundi Graduation Programme Evaluation

In December 2012, Concern Burundi launched its 'Graduation Model Programme' in two provinces in Burundi to work with extremely poor and marginalised communities. More details

Changes in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) in East Africa: Evidence, Synthesis and Data Mapping

IDS have been commissioned by DfID to draw from the relevant literature and datasets on poverty, vulnerability, livelihoods and resilience in the ASALs to identify priority, long-term evidence-gaps, and make recommendations on research and data collection approaches and methodologies. More details

Child Vulnerability Assessment, UNICEF Myanmar

IDS has been commissioned to analyse the most recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) data and write a report on child vulnerability, which can be utilized for evidence based programming and advocacy to improve children's status in Myanmar. More details

CSP Conference April 2011: Social Protection for Social Justice

The Centre for Social Protection hosted a conference titled ‘Social Protection for Social Justice’ at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton, 13-15 April 2011. More details

Designing a Grievance Mechanism and Exit Strategy for Zimbabwe's Harmonized Social Cash Transfer Programme

In 2011 the Ministry of Public Services, Labor and Social Welfare, Government of Zimbabwe (MPSLSW) launched a social cash transfer programme, known as the Harmonised Social Cash transfer (HSCT) for labour constrained extremely poor households. The Centre for Social Protection has been commissioned to design a grievance mechanism and an options paper for responsible exit of the HSCT. More details

Enhancing the Productive Capacity of Extremely Poor People in Rwanda - Evaluation

IDS led the evaluation of the Concern Worldwide graduation programme in Rwanda ‘Enhancing the Productive Capacity of Extremely Poor People’. More details

EuropeAid - Assistance in Social Transfers

The European Commission's Advisory Service in Social Transfers' project (ASiST) aims to increase the contribution of social transfers to addressing food and nutrition security. The project gives advisory services as requested by EU delegations. These services include building capacity for the design of social transfer programmes, developing a body of knowledge and supporting the policy dialogue. More details

Final External Review of the Cross-Cutting Disability Research Programme

This independent external review aimed to determine the extent to which the three year Cross-Cutting Disability Research Programme (CCDRP) in Nepal, India, Zambia, Uganda, and Kenya, has met its expected impact, outcome and outputs. More details

Future Agricultures Consortium

The DFID funded Future Agricultures Consortium is an Africa-based alliance of research organisations seeking to provide timely, high-quality and independent information and advice to improve agricultural policy and practice in Africa. More details


GSDRC provide high quality, timely knowledge products to support international development planning, policymaking and other activities area. This includes a document library, a research helpdesk and email bulletins More details

High Level Panel of Experts Report on Social Protection and Food Security

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the HLPE to produce a report, to be presented at the 39th Session of the CFS, a study on social protection and food security. More details

Impact Evaluation for the UNICEF SCT Project in Oromia and SNNPR

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is collaborating with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to conduct an impact evaluation of the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme in Oromia and SNNP Regions of Ethiopia for UNICEF Ethiopia. More details

Impact Evaluation of the Productive Safety Net Programme Phase 4 (2015-2020)

The Productive Safety Net Programme "provides transfers to the food insecure population [...] in a way that prevents asset depletion at the household level and creates assets at the community level." This work comprises bi-annual impact evaluations of the PSNP utilising a mixed methods approach. IDS leads on the qualitative evaluation. More details

Impact Evaluation of the PSNP and HAPB 2012

Since 2003, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has been implementing a new Food Security Programme (FSP). In 2009, this programme was reviewed and reformulated. More details

Position Paper - Social Protection in Fragile and Humanitarian Contexts

This position paper lays out the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) position on social protection and resilience building, with a particular emphasis on protracted crises and fragile and humanitarian contexts. More details

Research and 'Think Piece' on Opportunities for WFP Engagement in the Global Social Protection Arena

The WFP has contracted IDS to develop a think-piece examining the nexus of food security, nutrition and safety nets and social protection that will support the Safety Nets and Social Protection unit take shape and that will refine the areas of WFP’s corporate and global engagement. This will build on the work of the High Level Panel of Experts on Social Protection for Food Security. More details

Researching the Links between Social Protection and Children’s Care

This project aims to investigate the links between social protection and children's care. More details

Save the Children: How can social protection better respond to child poverty in Nepal?

Nepal has expanded its investment in social protection over the last few years, with a National Framework for Social Protection drafted in 2011. However, the impact of social protection generally and on children is compromised by challenges in coverage, implementation and delivery. Save the Children commissioned IDS to assess how social protection addresses child poverty in Nepal in order to inform their advocacy at the national level. More details

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View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.

Non-IDS publication

Poverty, Vulnerability and Social Protection in Zanzibar: An Overview

This policy report reviews the status of poverty and vulnerability in Zanzibar, as well as the social protection responses. More details

Non-IDS publication

Evaluation Of The Social Cash Transfers Pilot Programme Tigray Region, Ethiopia

In 2011, the Regional Government of Tigray, with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), introduced the Social Cash Transfer Pilot Program (SCTPP) in two woredas, Abi Adi and Hintalo Wajirat. This report, is based on quantitative data collected at the individual, household, and tabia level in May-June 2012 and qualitative data collected using key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and participatory appraisal activities in July-August 2012. More details

Equal Opportunities for All? – A Critical Analysis of Mexico’s Oportunidades

IDS Working Paper 413 (2012)

In this paper we challenge the theory of change behind the Mexican Conditional Cash Transfer Programme Oportunidades, by questioning whether it sufficiently addresses the structural factors that prevent its poorest group of beneficiaries, indigenous people, from climbing out of poverty. More details

This is the image for an In Focus Policy Briefing.

Realising the Potential of Adaptive Social Protection

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 28 (2012)

The concept of Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) – an approach that promotes greater integration between Social Protection, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction to make a meaningful contribution towards sustainable development – is well understood. More details

Resilience: New Utopia or New Tyranny?

IDS Working Paper 405 (2012)

Resilience is becoming influential in development and vulnerability reduction sectors such as social protection, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Policy makers, donors and international development agencies are now increasingly referring to the term. More details

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Making Social Protection ‘Climate-Smart’

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 27 (2012)

Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) aims to reduce the vulnerability of poor people to a range of shocks and ongoing stresses through the integration of social protection (SP), climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR). More details

Non-IDS publication

A Child-Sensitive Approach to Social Protection: Serving Practical and Strategic Needs

Journal of Poverty and Social Justice 20.3 (2012)

Social protection is increasingly considered a development success story. At the same time, it still does too little to account for social differentiation and to address vulnerability, as opposed to poverty. Child sensitive social protection has gained considerable momentum, particularly in a developing country context, raising questions about its concept and practical implications. More details

Group of women participating in the Productive Safety Net Programme, Ethiopia. Image credit: Mathan Ratinam/Parsons The New School for Design

The Centre for Social Protection: Transforming research and policy

This report provides a concise picture of CSP’s unique approach, key areas of work and accomplishments thus far. It aims to inform current and potential partners and stakeholders about who we are and how we work. More details

This is the cover for IDS Working Paper 395, 'Shocks and Social Protection in the Horn of Africa: Analysis from the Productive Safety Net Programme in Ethiopia'.

Shocks and Social Protection in the Horn of Africa: Analysis from the Productive Safety Net Programme in Ethiopia

IDS Working Paper 395 (2012)

Using panel data from the Ethiopian Productive Safety Net Program, this paper explores the degree to which this social protection programme has been successful in protecting its beneficiaries against the various shocks that have affected the Horn of Africa in the recent past. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Researching the Links Between Social Protection and Children's Care in Sub-Saharan Africa – A Concept Note

This research aims to help fill this gap by exploring the links between children’s care and social protection through an examination of these issues in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). More details

IDS publications on international development research

Lessons Learned and Ways Forward - Pathways to Protection – Referral Mechanisms and Case Management for Vulnerable Children in Eastern and Southern Africa

There is a need for a more comprehensive and systematic response, of which referral mechanisms and case management are crucial elements. More details

IDS publications on international development research

A Stocktaking Report - Pathways to Protection – Referral Mechanisms and Case Management for Vulnerable Children in Eastern and Southern Africa

Momentum is growing around the awareness that services for children need to be linked up and respond to each other. Referral mechanisms and case management are key to linking such services and strengthening systems for children. More details

This is the image for 'Social Protection and Resilience
to Climate and Disaster'.

Social Protection and Resilience to Climate and Disaster

Programme Briefing (2012)

Social Protection, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction all aim to reduce vulnerability to shocks. But so far these three communities of practice have worked in isolation. More details

IDS Research Summary

Lessons from Social Protection Programme Implementation in Kenya, Zambia and Mongolia (Research Summary)

IDS Research Summary of IDS Research Report 69 (2012)

This Research Report (conducted by the Centre for Social Protection at IDS with UNICEF) examines how social protection programming can interrupt the intergenerational transfer of poverty (IGT) through investments in human capital (education, health and nutrition), aiming to capture best practice and enhance lesson learning within a multilateral organisation (UNICEF). More details

Non-IDS publication

Social Protection Pathways: Shaping Social Justice Outcomes for the Most Marginalised, Now and Post-2015

The potential of social protection to promote social justice outcomes for diverse marginalised social groups is increasingly being recognised.This Background Note provides a theory of change framework for understanding macro- to micro-impact pathways for transformative social protection. More details

Non-IDS publication

Living Through Crises - How the Food, Fuel and Financial Shocks Affect the Poor

What did the global food, fuel, and financial crises of 2008-11 mean to people living in the developing world? How did people cope with the crisis and how effective were they at averting major impacts? These are the questions addressed by this book, which emerged out of qualitative crisis monitoring initiatives carried out by IDS and the World Bank. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Seasonality, Rural Livelihoods and Development

Seasonality is a severe constraint to sustainable rural livelihoods, and a driver of poverty and hunger, particularly in the tropics. Many poor people in developing countries are ill equipped to cope with seasonal variations which can lead to drought or flood and consequences for agriculture, employment, food supply and the spread of disease. More details

IDS Working Paper

Social Protection in Myanmar: Making the Case for Holistic Policy Reform

IDS Working Paper 386 (2011)

Myanmar is a country with a very low per capita income and distressing failures in nutrition, health, education, and others areas of social development. More details

Non-IDS publication

Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar: Zanzibar Social Protection Policy

This policy report offers an in-depth analysis of the Zanzibar Social Protection Policy, as well as mapping poverty and vulnerability on the island. More details