Social Protection in Africa
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Social Protection in Africa

Frank Ellis, Stephen Devereux and Phillip White

The purpose of this book is to make accessible to a broad audience the ideas, principles and practicalities of establishing effective social protection in Africa. It focuses on the major shift in strategy for tackling hunger and vulnerability, from emergency responses mainly in the form of food transfers to predictable cash transfers to the chronically poorest social groups. The diverse case studies in this book provide a unique and timely exploration of the effective, and less effective, ways that social transfers are delivered to the chronically poor and vulnerable in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Chapter 8: Asset Protection and Building

Frank Ellis, Stephen Devereux and Phillip White


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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