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Working with Cash-based Safety Nets in Humanitarian Contexts: Guidance note for humanitarian practitioners

2016 — By Nupur Kukrety

Over the past decade social protection has emerged as an important social policy measure to tackle poverty and inequality in society, and to address vulnerability to shocks. In line with these developments, there has been increasing interest in forging better links between humanitarian assistance and social protection systems in order to reduce the need for recurrent humanitarian assistance, and to facilitate an effective response in times of crisis.

This has led to gains being made in some countries to strengthen the design of existing social safety nets to make them ‘shock responsive’, along with a growing number of examples of efforts to use social assistance systems to deliver humanitarian aid. However, social protection continues to be a fairly new concept that is not fully understood by most humanitarian actors.

This guidance note aims to help fill this knowledge gap. It has been prepared from a humanitarian perspective, for humanitarian actors engaged in cash based programming. It recognises that social protection is the responsibility of national governments, but also that there is immense scope for humanitarian actors to play a role in strengthening existing, and supporting the creation of new, social protection systems where they do not exist or are underdeveloped.

This document will support humanitarian actors to decide on their role and consider options for support at different stages of the humanitarian programme management cycle in three different types of context (basic, intermediate and advanced, in terms of the existence of shock responsive social protection systems).

The guidance comprises three key parts:

  1. conceptual clarity on the terms;
  2. establishing the link between humanitarian cash based response and social protection; and
  3. practical guidance, including examples, for humanitarian actors on linking humanitarian cash based response with social protection in the three different contexts.