Social protection aims to make poor people less vulnerable and protect them from extreme deprivation.1 It helps people living in poverty to meet their basic needs, including access to food. Social protection can tackle the immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition, thereby avoiding the lasting damaging effects that malnutrition has on children’s lives.
Social protection also has the potential to empower people living in poverty to transform their livelihoods, so they can fully participate in their economies and societies. It is therefore a strategy that, properly applied, addresses short-term needs of people living in poverty, while at the same time providing them with economic and social opportunities that can deliver sustainable returns for society as a whole.
Social protection plays a vital role in protecting vulnerable people during times of stability as well as in response to crisis. If introduced prior to crisis and sustained during crisis, social protection can play a role in preventing negative impacts on families. Given its potential to protect people from the devastating effects of poverty, to empower them and to transform their livelihoods, social protection should be viewed as a core long-term strategy.
This report focuses on one component of social protection – social transfers – which are particularly relevant to tackling malnutrition. Social transfers are “predictable transfers to households or individuals, both in-kind and cash, including public works programmes”.3 In other words, distributing cash, food or assets – sometimes in exchange for recipients’ participation in employment or other activities – in order to protect those people from poverty and promote productive livelihoods.