Design features of successful social protection programs

Rooted in the notion that most poor Africans reside in rural areas and earn their income from agriculture, the Malabo Declaration emphasizes agriculture-led growth as the engine for poverty reduction. But even the most inclusive agricultural growth may not be sufficient to lift everyone out of poverty. This is because to take part in and benefit from the growth process, households need a basic level of capital and security, so that their assets are not depleted in the face of drought or other shocks. To address that vulnerability, complementary investments in social protection programs are necessary to protect the poorest and most vulnerable households, so that no one is left behind. Social protection programs are becoming increasingly popular in Africa; their numbers have tripled in the past 15 years. Today, cash transfers are the most important form of social protection in Africa, although regional differences exist (Figure 1).

Photo credit: Nicolas Le Guen/EU/ECHO