Inadequate social protection fuels poverty and hunger

People who are poor are vulnerable to hunger because they lack the income and assets required to help them meet their basic food and nutrition needs on a daily basis. They are also highly vulnerable to even small shocks that can push them closer to destitution, malnutrition and premature mortality, as they rarely have savings and food stocks to fall back on in times of crisis.

Social Protection consists of policies and programmes designed to protect people from shocks and stresses throughout their lives, and play a critical role in reducing poverty and inequality while supporting inclusive growth. Yet, 73 percent of the world’s population still live without adequate social protection coverage.

Social protection for food security and nutrition

Effective social protection responses to poverty-related food insecurity include promoting activities that predictably and reliably transfer income or food to participants, thus providing them with a “safety net” whilst supporting and promoting livelihoods and when and where possible, helping protect mother, infant and child health by ensuring specific nutrient needs are met during critical times of development and growth. Activity examples can include community asset creation projects, visiting mother-child-health centres for pre- and post-natal care, and even attending school.

WFP social protection and safety nets

As part of its commitment to a sustainable and resilient hunger-free world, WFP supports national governments in designing, operationalising and evaluating cost-effective food security and nutrition-sensitive safety net and social protection mechanisms for the most vulnerable populations in fragile and challenging operational contexts; a good example of this can be found in the programme that provides fresh food vouchers for pregnant and lactating women in Syria.

WFP also works to build on its experience and expertise in designing and delivering cash-based transfers, developing and using risk management instruments and conducting in-depth cost analyses of value chains for nutrition to develop different approaches to support established national social protection systems with assistance and outreach.

WFP also provides guidance and support in food security and nutrition vulnerability analysis and mapping, and information management to help ensure safety net and social protection interventions effectively target and reach the most vulnerable and inaccessible populations.

Suggested non-WFP publications

View the World Social Protection Report (2014-2015) – View the High-level Panel of Experts Report on Social Protection and Food Security (PDF, 2.51 MB) – View the State of Social Safety Nets (2015) – View the GFNSSP Brief