Research on social assistance in crisis situations has focused predominantly on how social assistance can flex in response to rapid-onset emergencies such as floods or hurricanes and to slower-onset shocks such as drought.
This paper identifies a substantial knowledge gap – namely, our understanding of the ways in which existing, government-led programmes can be sustained during crises to ensure that households that were already poor and vulnerable before a crisis continue to be supported.
The limited literature available focuses on climate- and natural environment-related shocks – far less attention is paid to other crises. Conflict-affected situations are a major gap, although there is an emerging body of evidence of the ways in which focus on adapting delivery mechanisms has allowed social assistance and other social protection programmes to be sustained throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The paper concludes that a better understanding of when, where and how existing programmes can be sustained during situations of violent conflict will help to ensure that poor and vulnerable households can be supported – either through government programmes or by enabling robust diagnosis of when efforts to sustaining existing programmes will be inadequate and an additional, external responses are required.