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Social Protection for Africa’s Children

November 11, 2010

 

A colleague at IDS and the Centre for Social Protection, Stephen Devereux, presented his new book yesterday during a seminar. It is co-edited with Sudanshu Handa and Doug Webb and entitled “Social Protection for Africa’s Children”. It’s an interesting book with a range of empirical evidence and rights arguments for the use of social protection as a response to child poverty and vulnerability in Sub-Saharan Africa. As such, it moves the justification of an emphasis on children beyond that based on emotional arguments but grounds them in evidence and right-based arguments. It also fits in well with the current thinking about social protection as a response to issues of child vulnerability, collected under the term of child sensitive social protection. Whilst the notion of child sensitive social protection has gained quite some momentum in the development debate around children (see the Joint Statement on Advancing Child-Sensitive Social Protection by UNICEF and other development partners in 2009), it is still quite unclear what it actually means. Guiding principles in the joint statement point towards the avoidance of adverse impacts on children, the importance of family units and the inclusion of voices of children but give little specific guidelines as what that means in practice. Devereux, Webb and Handa go some way into making it more tangible by the provision of various examples throughout their book but are only partially successful in clarifying the child-sensitive aspects of the various programmes. Trying to clarify this question led to my abstract submission entitled “Child-Sensitive Social Protection: so what?” to the conference on Social Protection for Social Justice organized by the Centre for Social Protection (CSP), IDS. Let’s see if I can come up with some answers…

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