INTRODUCTION Social protection programmes have several important, generally positive, impacts on household assets, either directly or indirectly. There are three main mechanisms. First, programmes that increase household income (in cash or in kind), or insure households against livelihood shocks, protect assets against ‘distress disposal’. Second, many programmes aim explicitly to create assets at the individual level (for example, education and skills), the household level (for example livestock, farm tools) or the community level (for example, roads, village grain banks). Third, recipients of social transfers often choose to allocate some transfer income to purchases of productive assets or consumer goods. All of these eﬀects can be observed in social protection schemes across Africa. Just as social protection has impacts in terms of ‘livelihood protection’ and ‘livelihood promotion’, so the speciﬁc impacts on assets can be classiﬁed as either ‘asset protection’ or ‘asset building’. Asset protection eﬀects include the following: Cash or food transfers protect households against the need to sell assets to buy food. b. Social transfer beneﬁciaries can keep their children in school during episodes of livelihood stress, instead of withdrawing them to work or to save money. c. Social insurance mechanisms such as burial societies provide a buﬀer against the heavy and unavoidable costs imposed on poor families by the death of a family member. d. Projects supporting orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) protect the access of orphans to family land, which might otherwise be reallocated by local chiefs to other households. Asset...
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