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social protection – HIV, nutrition and West Africa

November 2, 2012

I came across a number of interesting and (fairly) new references with respect to social protection this week.

 The first is a State of the Evidence paper on HIV Sensitive Social Protection in Sub-Saharan Africa by UNICEF and the Economic Policy Research Institute. This paper builds on emerging evidence as well as recent overview studies globally and at regional level. It provides an evidence-based analysis framework but most interestingly analyses the evidence gaps with respect to HIV sensitive social protection. Amidst the burgeoning number of studies and reports, the lack of focus on vulnerable group and limited availability of evidence on the differential impact of conditional versus unconditional programmes, optimal benefit size, desired duration of programmes and differential impacts on men versus women were highlighted as some of the major gaps.

 The second is another paper that aimed to collate evidence on the impact of social protection, but that is focused particularly on the effectiveness of cash transfer programmes on improving nutritional status. In their paper, Manley, Gitter and Slavchevska undertook a systematic review of articles that reported on height for age. They found that programmes diverged greatly in terms of their effectiveness, and it terms of the conditionality versus unconditionality debate point out that: “Conditionalities with health components are statistically indistinguishable from unconditional programmes, while other types of requirements strongly inhibit child growth.”  Although a very interesting and certainly useful overview of evidence, Lawrence Haddad points out that in the end only 18 studies were included in this overview. More research is needed.

 Finally, the IFPRI West and Central Africa Office published a thematic research note on Social Protection in West Africa. Although strictly speaking, it is not about West Africa. The note holds a number of interesting short briefings about topics relevant for the development of social protection in West Africa (and elsewhere) drawing on experiences from mostly Southern and Eastern Africa. This includes process related issues (policy processes, affordability of social protection) as well as concerns around impact (on productivity and nutrition). Don’t expect any in-depth discussion but rather an invitation for further thinking and reading.

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