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Every year, the World Food Programme (WFP) provides vital food and nutrition assistance to around 100 million people. Yet, the number of people who do not have enough to eat worldwide is much higher – currently standing at 690 million. Reaching Zero Hunger by 2030 means meeting the needs of these people and WFP works with governments to ensure this can be done through national systems, including social protection.

Social protection can help people address the risks they face, such as poverty, social exclusion, inequality and food insecurity, and protect the most vulnerable from shocks and stresses throughout their lives.

Social protection systems typically include social assistance schemes - predictable and reliable transfers of cash, food or other goods, as well as subsidies and service fee waivers for vulnerable groups. Every country in the world has at least one social assistance scheme in place.

WFP has a long tradition of providing technical advice and operational support to strengthen governments’ social protection systems. In addition, WFP’s own experience in delivering cash and in-kind transfers, school-based programmes, insurance and food assistance for assets enables it to be a complementary partner to governments.

Leveraging its experience, WFP pioneers approaches and tools that can be sustainably integrated within national social protection systems. This includes improving targeting, safeguarding the rights and dignity of beneficiaries and the accountability owed towards them; developing platforms to register and manage information for social assistance; piloting innovative transfer mechanisms; establishing networks of accredited shops where people can spend their allowances; and encouraging the purchase of locally-produced food.

WFP also strengthens government capacity to improve the ability of social protection systems to build resilience and respond to emergencies, such as disasters or sudden mass population displacements. WFP increasingly uses and builds upon government-owned social protection systems to respond to emergencies, thus avoiding duplication of efforts and strengthening the shock-responsive capacities of the national system. This happened, for instance, in Ecuador, where WFP complemented government assistance to populations affected by the 2016 earthquake and in Fiji, where it supported government assistance after tropical cyclone Winston hit the country the same year.

Finally, WFP also supports governments to improve the food security and nutrition impacts of their social protection system. For instance, WFP’s work to include nutrition elements in the Dominican Republic’s social safety net Progresando con Solidaridad  has led to a 50 percent drop in anaemia rates among children under 5.


1.6 %
of GDP is spent on safety nets in low- and middle-income countries
Every country
in the world has at least one safety net
of the world's poor are not yet covered by a safety net

Supporting national social protection responses to the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19