This paper examines the linkages between social protection and resilience to climate change among poor rural households. To date there is a very limited understanding of the potential role of social protection programmes in contributing to an increase in resilience of the rural poor with respect to climate change.
An improved understanding of these links can help to build the knowledge base that is needed to help the poorest members of the society to adapt to the impacts of climate change. This gap in understanding is addressed in this working paper through a case study of the conditional cash transfer programme Oportunidades in two rural communities in Yucatan, Mexico, a region highly exposed to hurricanes and droughts. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected by means of household surveys, life-history interviews, key informant interviews, group discussions and participant observation. The working paper found that the main role of Oportunidades is to provide a regular and predictable safety net that protects households from short-term risk, thus increasing households’ coping capacity.
The impact on the adaptive capacity of households is indirect and differentiated according to their respective poverty profiles. Furthermore, the research shows that certain features of the theory of change of Oportunidades, and its design, reduce the potential impact of the programme, creating trade-offs between coping and adaptive capacities. The working paper concludes by making a case for social protection to be complemented by other interventions in a systemic approach that should explicitly consider climate change, in order to increase resilience and achieve sustainable poverty reduction.