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UNICEF Thailand: What is a child support grant?

UNICEF Thailand: What is a child support grant?

A video about the concept of Child Support Grant as a social protection for children from low-income families.

Child support grants are regular cash payments made to the parents or caregivers of children living in poor households to help meet essential living costs; in some countries they are called child allowances or child benefits.

EPRI in the News: What can SAGE learn from East Africa?


Written by Edward Ssekika

In the 1990s, social protection in East Africa sounded very outlandish reminiscent of Western welfare states.

The idea of social protection started gaining momentum around the 2000s. It started in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and now Uganda. Uganda’s Expanding Social Protection programme (ESP) started in 2010 and is designed to help vulnerable individuals and  households so that they can access basic needs – although initial evidence shows that some recipients are creatively investing and ‘growing’ the grants.

One of the major pillars of social protection in Uganda is Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE), a pilot scheme which, among others, offers monthly cash grants to senior citizens [old persons] in 15 selected districts. Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, recently told The Observer that government is considering scaling up the SAGE programme to cover the entire country.

Once rolled out, it will enable at least 100 old persons per sub-county in the country to earn Shs 25,000 monthly. As Uganda plans to roll out the programme, what lessons can the country learn from its African peers?

According to a report on social protection in Africa released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently, Africa is looking at social protection to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor and also provide vulnerable houses access to basic necessities of life and spur growth, since the money is spent within the economy.

‘Investments in health and education induced by cash transfer programmes generate both short and long term economic benefits through improvements in human capital, which lead to an increase in labour productivity and employability,’ reads the report in part. However, different countries have different social protection mechanisms.

In Ethiopia, for instance, its social protection is run as a phased programme known as Productive Safety Net Programme which focuses on vulnerable households to improve their livelihood. This includes direct cash transfers for vulnerable households or providing direct employment in public works to vulnerable people.

According to the FAO report, cash transfers in Ethiopia potentially serve as an important complement to a broader rural development agenda, including a pro-poor growth strategy focusing on agriculture. Cash transfers can serve not just as social protection but also as a means of promoting farm and household-level production gains.

Dr Michael Samson, a director of research at Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI), Cape Town South Africa, says the government of Ethiopia spends more than any other country in East Africa on social protection. There is a heavy government commitment. It was aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and public works that help tackle poverty.

It either provides jobs or those who do not have work, get cash payment. With an annual budget of nearly $500 million, the Productive Safety Net is a huge programme, reaching more than seven million Ethiopians.

In neighbouring Kenya, the Hunger Safety Net Programme is also run as a phased programme. It makes cash transfers to vulnerable households, in food insecure counties and cushions them from hunger and starvation. Currently, Hunger Safety Net Programme is in its second phase.

The FAO report notes that cash transfers function as part of both tracks of a twin track approach – reducing hunger and vulnerability immediately, while at the same time facilitating household level investment in productive activities.

Hunger Safety Net Programme mainly offers cash transfers to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Older Persons, Urban Food Subsidy, and Persons Living with Disability cash transfers. Currently, the second phase of Hunger Safety Net Programme is supporting the poorest and vulnerable households in the poorest four arid counties of Turkana, Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit with the overall aim of reducing extreme hunger and vulnerability.

Under the programme every household receives cash transfers of Kshs 4,900 every two months. Currently, the programme runs an entire annual budget of Kshs 230 million.

Kenya’s Vision 2030 aims to establish a consolidated Social Protection Fund, so social protection is a key priority in this vision. Vulnerability is a likelihood of falling into poverty. The objectives of social protection correspond to four of its aspects – social assistance, social services, social insurance and social equity.

Some cash transfers like OVC are conditional, mainly after a household has sent the child to school. It also involves public works where individuals get regular payment of a wage in exchange for work (physical labour). This is overseen by an inter-ministerial, social protection committee and has provisional and district social protection committees and area or village social protection advisory committees.

In Tanzania, social protection, reaffirmed its commitment to social protection by signing the Arusha Declaration on Social Protection in Tanzania and is embedded in Expanding Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF). This makes cash transfers and public works a component of social protection, and currently, at least one million people are enrolled on the programme.

EPRI in the News: Graduating from Social Protection

By: Michael Samson


The framework developed in this article illustrates how social protection with a developmental approach can deepen socioeconomic impact at individual and household level and effectively address apprehension over dependency. The starting point examines various definitions of ‘graduation’ within a social protection context – as exit from poverty, or from the social protection system, or alternatively as a process of continually strengthening household developmental outcomes. Appropriately designed and effectively implemented, a ‘graduation’ approach can sustainably promote dynamic outcomes, with inclusive economic expansion reinforcing poverty reduction, which in turn contributes to further growth and development. These micro-oriented initiatives will likely work best when embedded within a broader macro development framework that integrates and strengthens the range of social and economic policy instruments implemented by government. This article maps out a path for policymakers aiming to strengthen the pro-poor and inclusive economic growth and development impacts of social protection by incorporating a graduation approach.


Read more here

EPRI in the News: Financing Social Protection in Tanzania and Uganda

by Emmanuel Kisaame and Jason Braganza

Why social protection?

Social protection plays an integral role in ensuring benefits from development and growth are sustainable and that no one gets left behind in the fight against chronic and extreme poverty. In addition, it enables people to invest in their livelihoods and improves resilience and social cohesion resulting in human capital development (see figure below). In a recent briefing on social protection, Development Initiatives provides evidence on this critical focus area for investments to end poverty in least developed countries.

Multidimensional impacts of social protection (i)

Financing social protection in Tanzania and Uganda

Social protection – Options for Tanzania and Uganda

Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced stable economic growth over the past decade or so. However, this growth has not translated into commensurate poverty reduction or an improvement in the lives of the most poor. The2014 Poverty Status Report in Uganda shows that despite stable growth the combined number of Ugandans that are either poor or vulnerable to poverty is 63% of the population, or 21.4 million. The broad-based growth agenda of Uganda differs from a pro-poor growth approach such as that adopted by Tanzania, which offers better prospects for the poor and vulnerable.

In both countries there is a case for financing social protection programmes to safeguard the poorest populations. (ii) As part of the UNICEF speaker’s series on financing social protection in these two countries, it was highlighted that finding fiscal space for social protection programmes was an important policy priority.

In the case of Uganda, analysis of fiscal space involved identifying additional revenue sources to bolster the country’s ability to pay. This involves increasing the scope and effectiveness of existing revenue sources. Key questions to be considered include: is further investment in social protection affordable and feasible? Are social protection investments feasible in light of budget deficits and low revenue collection? Is social protection sustainable given the large number of dependents among Uganda’s population? (iii)

Meanwhile in Tanzania tax revenue analysis suggests broadening the tax base and reducing tax exemptions and tax evasion rates. Specifically, tax exemptions need to be more pro-poor, tax evasion needs to be countered through stricter legislation, and additional tax revenue sources such as airspace tax could be explored.

Fundamental to financing social protection in both Tanzania and Uganda is the political commitments by policy makers to find the fiscal space that will resource these programmes. Social protection should be seen as investment rather than expenditure to lift the most vulnerable people out of extreme poverty by 2030.



(i) Taken from Creating and Sustaining Fiscal Space for Expanding Social Protection, Nard Huijbregts Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI), Cape Town, South Africa,  April 2015

(ii) See forthcoming Development Initiatives’ paper Getting poverty to zero – evidencing the role of social protection, current coverage and current domestic and external financing

(iii) It is notable that children are over-represented in Uganda’s poverty statistics.


Read more here.

Register Now: Economic Strengthening for Orphans and Vulnerable Children


Register now: available in-person or via online live stream.

May 6, 2015
8:30 am – 2:00 pm US EST
FHI 360 Conference Center in Washington, DC

The event jointly organized by The SEEP Network and the International Rescue Committee as part of the Accelerated Strategies for Practical Innovation & Research in Economic Strengthening (ASPIRES) project, led by FHI360 in a consortium of 20 members, working to promote evidence-based state-of-the-art approaches to promote high quality economic strengthening programs for orphans and vulnerable children.

Interview with Dr. Michael Samson: How is South Africa bringing agriculture and social protection together?

FAO, with support from UNICEF and in collaboration with other members of the Agriculture and Social Protection in Africa Technical Reference Group, which include the African Institute for Health and Development (AIHD), the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP), the African Union (AU), New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Bank organized a two-day consultative workshop on 25 and 26 November 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.

During the workshop, as part of the From Protection to Production (PtoP) Regional Workshop “Strengthening Coherence between Agriculture and Social Protection”, FAO interviewed EPRI’s Director of Research, Dr. Michael Samson. The topic of the interview was: “How is South Africa bringing agriculture and social protection together?”

FAO has also shared a video on their website, which features clips from interviews conducted with participants who gave their insights on why coherence between agriculture and social protection is important and what issues need to be addressed to bring together the two sectors.


If you would like to view photos of the training, please visit EPRI on Facebook.

*All materials, videos and photos produced as part of FAO’s From Protection to Production (PtoP) project.

EPRI Once Again Ranked as One of the Best Small Think Tanks in the World: 2014 Go-To Think Tank Awards

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania has released it’s “2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report” and EPRI has once again been ranked, this time at number 6 in the world, in the category: “Top Think Tanks with Annual Operating Budgets of Less Than $5 Million USD.”

This is the 4th year in a row that EPRI has received the honour to be ranked in this category. In the 2011 report, EPRI ranked 7th, in the 2012 report, EPRI ranked  6th in the  2013 report we ranked 5th and in the latest report released for 2014 we are ranked at number 6 again.

Congratulations team EPRI!

EPRI strives to strengthen the delivery of social protection programs for vulnerable people with a commitment to building and sharing an evidence base on social protection that is drawn from economic analysis and global lessons of experience.  The organization also seeks to increase the direct and positive impact of those programs through capacity-building work and technical assistance to country-led policy formation.

Download the full report.


Williams College Winter Study Programme 2015


The Winter Study Programme 2015 students enjoying some fresh air in one of South Africa’s game parks in the Eastern Cape.

Between 9 – 19 January 2015, twelve students from Williams College in Williamstown, United States, are being hosted by EPRI in Cape Town as part of their curriculum.

This travel course will examine the impact of twenty years of democracy on the social and economic lives of South Africans.

This course will also explore the impact of government policies and programmes tackling poverty and unemployment and investigate how such a skewed distribution of resources has persisted, and what government policies have succeeded in redressing. Meetings -with policy-makers, community activists, teachers, labor leaders, economic researchers, social workers, public health advocates and bankers – will provide insight into the historical and structural causes of the extreme inequality that still characterizes South Africa’s society, and the government interventions that have succeeded in redressing past imbalances and inequities while promoting pro-poor economic growth and inclusive development.

The itinerary will focus on Cape Town and rural areas within the Western Cape province. First-hand experience combined with educational presentations and discussions will illuminate the challenges and opportunities policy-makers have faced and document the progress achieved during South Africa’s first twenty years tackling the persistent legacy of apartheid.

Please visit EPRI’s Facebook page for more photos and updates.

You can view the photo gallery of the trip.

International conference on social protection, Tanzania, December 2014

TanzaniaLogos Hosted by the Poverty Eradication Department in the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Tanzania, with support of UNICEF, ILO and the Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI)

Dr. Michael Samson of the Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI) will be in attendance of the International Conference for Social Protection: ‘Building Effective and Sustainable Systems for Equitable Growth Perspectives, Policies and Best Practices’ on December 15-17, 2014 in Arusha, Tanzania. Find more information, including registration for attendance here.

Conference abstract

A three-day international conference on Social Protection: Building Effective and Sustainable Systems for Equitable Growth will take place from 15th to 17th December 2014 in Arusha, Tanzania. The conference will gather policy-makers, researchers and practitioners directly involved in the planning, design, and implementation of social protection programmes and systems, with the objective of encouraging South-South exchange of cutting-edge knowledge and best practices. The Arusha Conference intends to specifically harness this learning and use it to support Tanzania’s ongoing efforts in scaling up its Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) Programme to reach all extreme poor by mid-2015. Further, this will contribute to the strengthening of social protection systemsincluding strong engagement of key social sectors, and inform the next steps of the social protection agenda in the country and the region.

The conference will be hosted by the Poverty Eradication Department in the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Tanzania, with support of UNICEF, ILO and the Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI).

We look forward to seeing you in Arusha!

For any conference-related inquiry, please write

Learning Event on Enabling Environments for Financial Inclusion Linkages to Social Protection Programmes: 20 - 23 October 2014


The EPRI team is in Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province, South Africa, for the “Learning Event on Enabling Environments for Financial Inclusion Linkages to Social Protection Programmes” from 20 – 23 October 2014. The workshop is being hosted together with the National Department of Social Development, and the Ford Foundation. Thank you to Mr. Elroy Paulus, for the collage photo of the first day’s activities.