Leaving No One Behind: A Social Protection Primer for Practitioners

Published: October 2016

Social protection has gained significant traction around the world. A wide body of evidence in the past few decades strongly suggests that social protection programmes can be effective tools to reduce poverty and inequality, increase human capital and protect men, women, girls and boys from risks. The combination of this growing evidence base, and growing political will, has stimulated an appetite for implementing social protection programmes in virtually every country around the world.

UNDP has been a key player in assisting governments in developing countries in designing and implementing social protection programmes and projects. As this note was being finalized in 2016, roughly 133 UNDP projects in more than 50 countries were related to social protection.2 However, there is much more to be done in terms of social protection.

However, there is much more to be done in terms of social protection. Across the board, social protection programmes in place are not enough. Certain groups are systematically left behind. Gender stereotypes and traditional roles are either left intact or reinforced. Too often there is no continuation of protection across the life cycle of individuals. Programmes are fragmented. The design and implementation of programmes does not take account of the changing environment and its environmental impacts. The underlying and structural drivers of deprivations, including social norms, institutions, and agency, are often left unchanged. Funding is limited and recurrently cut in times of economic contraction.

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