Making less last longer: informal safety nets in Malawi

Making less last longer: informal safety nets in Malawi

Implications for the design and targetting of more formal safety nets

Examines role of informal safety nets in providing protection against livelihood shocks.

Summarises state of knowledge on informal safety nets by reviewing available literature and also reporting on household survey carried out in Malawi in 1999.

Key finding is that informal transfers, either between rich and poor or the poor themselves, appear to be declining over time, partly as a general consequence of commercialisation and partly because deepening poverty means that the economic basis for redistribution is contracting. Concludes by arguing that policymakers concerned with providing assistance to the poor should consider "productivity enhancing safety-nets", such as inputs-for-work to boost agricultural production, rather than food-for-work to compensate for production deficits.

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