1. Overview THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK Social protection is moving up the development agenda in Africa. The reason is a growing recognition that too many people in Africa are mired in chronic poverty and vulnerability, such that even small shocks to agricultural outcomes or cash incomes cause disproportionate distress and hunger. In the past, governments, aid donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have responded to adverse events in Africa primarily through emergency transfers to those most seriously aﬀected. Most of this humanitarian relief has been food aid, and the unpredictability yet frequency of its occurrence and scale has been costly as well as failing to address the underlying causes of vulnerability. Aid donors are moving towards the notion of ‘predictable funding for predictable needs’. In other words, if the most vulnerable people in African countries were provided with regular cash transfers to underpin their access to food and basic needs, then emergency measures could be avoided in most instances, being required only in the event of catastrophic emergencies on a broad scale. This policy agenda is a lot more complicated than it may appear at ﬁrst sight. Decisions to provide vulnerable people at national scale with regular social transfers must ultimately be made by governments and have political force behind them or they stand little chance of success. Nevertheless, suﬃcient cases of such political will do exist across Africa to provide the basis for taking the agenda seriously. For example, seven sub-Saharan African countries have proper old age...
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