Farmers producing teff in Mekelle region in Northern Ethiopia.
Photo: Michael Brüntrup


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During the last decade social protection instruments have gained popularity among policy responses to drought. Several governments in sub-Saharan Africa have integrated cash transfer and public works schemes into their strategies for food security and disaster risk management. Looking at Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), one of the largest programmes of this kind in the region, our author examines which structural bottlenecks have to be removed for social protection schemes to contribute to drought resilience in the long term.

As part of Ethiopia’s food security programme, the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) was launched by the Ethiopian government and a group of its development partners in the year 2005. The programme targets the food-insecure population in chronically food-insecure rural districts and aims to bridge food gaps, prevent asset depletion at household level and create assets at community level. For this reason, the PSNP is primarily designed to provide predictable support (food or cash) to households with predictable needs – those households that are chronically food-insecure. In its major component, which covers approximately 80 per cent of the programme participants, it targets healthy and able-bodied adults to carry out public works; as part of its smaller component, vulnerable clients who have no other means of support, including the disabled and elderly, receive unconditional food and/or cash transfers. Besides the standard components, the PSNP comprises risk financing and contingency funds at the regional and district levels that are to be used to expand coverage in the case of drought emergencies.

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