Working Paper

Strategy Support Program Working Paper 158

Expanding Social Protection Coverage with Humanitarian Aid: Lessons on Targeting and Transfer Values from Ethiopia

Published on 1 October 2021

While social protection programs have multiplied over the last two decades across sub-Saharan Africa, these co-exist alongside humanitarian assistance in many places, calling for better integration of assistance delivered through the two channels. Progress on this front is hampered by limited evidence of whether and how these historically siloed sectors can work together.

Using quantitative and qualitative data from districts covered by Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) and where humanitarian food assistance (HFA) was delivered, we assess differences in targeting and transfer values. We find that PSNP and HFA were targeted to households with different characteristics. PSNP transfers did, on average, reach those households that were chronically food insecure. HFA, while delivered through PSNP systems, was targeted to households that were acutely vulnerable.

These are promising findings as they suggest that social protection systems are able to effectively deliver a continuum of support in response to different types of vulnerability and risk. On transfer values, we find that the value of PSNP transfers is greater than those for HFA. One reason for this may be due to social pressure on local officials todistribute support more widely across a drought- affected population when faced with acute needs.

Cite this publication

Sabates-Wheeler, R.; Hirvonen, K.; Lind, J. and Hoddinott, J. (2021) Expanding Social Protection Coverage with Humanitarian Aid: Lessons on Targeting and Transfer Values from Ethiopia, ESSP Working Paper 158, Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), DOI: 10.2499/p15738coll2.134697


Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Rural Futures Cluster Lead

Jeremy Lind

Professorial Fellow

Kalle Hirvonen
John Hoddinott

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