Social assistance programmes contribute among others to education for women and girls and develop a productive and social infrastructure. <br/> Photo: © giz/Jörg Böthling

Social assistance programmes contribute among others to education for women and girls and develop a productive and social infrastructure.
Photo: © giz/Jörg Böthling

Social protection - an important pillar for food and nutrition security

Hunger and malnutrition is no longer discussed solely as a problem of food production but as a problem of structural poverty. Causes of hunger and malnutrition are multidimensional and cannot be tackled by a sector alone, shows a new desk study by Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit – giz.

The international debate attributes an increasingly important role to social protection in ensuring food and nutrition security. The leading multilateral organisations in this thematic area, particularly the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have prominently integrated social protection into their concepts and approaches.

Today, social protection is being widely recognised as instrument in poverty eradication and inequality reduction. Furthermore, if well designed and implemented it boosts the local economy and contributes to resilience building against economic crisis and weather related shocks.

Countries’ interest in investing in social protection is growing. The World Bank´s report The State of the Social Safety Nets (2015) shows that so far over 130 emerging and developing countries have made investments in so-called social safety nets or social assistance programmes as part of their economic development policies.

Social assistance instruments involve conditional and unconditional cash transfers, which includes public works programmes, in-kind transfers, such as school feeding and targeted food assistance, and near cash benefits such as fee waivers and food vouchers. They provide regular and predictable support to food insecure people and especially include the most nutritionally vulnerable, as pregnant and lactating women and small children. Therefore, they play a critical role in improving food and nutrition security.

Inter-sectoral cooperation and nutrition-sensitive design matters

Social assistance programmes do not facilitate access to food for poor families alone. If they are well designed and implemented they can improve the quality of diet, contribute to education for women and girls, develop the productive and social infrastructure, conserve and rehabilitate natural resources and galvanise the rural economy.

The Global Programme ‘Food and nutrition security, enhanced resilience’ under BMZ´s special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger focuses on improved quality and diversity of food for pregnant women, mothers, infants suffering from malnutrition. Social protection is part of its multi-sectoral approach.

The desk study “The role of social protection for food and nutrition security – Examples from practice and international discussion” aims to encourage better use of social protection’s potential for food and nutrition security and rural development. It provides an overview of potential effects and corresponding evidence, presents examples of good practice and identifies success factors and critical contextual conditions to optimise the effects on food and nutrition security.

The study is now available in English.

Download Study

Dr. Annette Roth
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Bonn/Germany

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