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Adaptive Social Protection

Global processes and crises are changing and deepening the risks already faced by poor and vulnerable people in developing countries. The aim of government and the international community is to respond to these threats through a range of policy and practical approaches that help limit damage from shocks and stresses. Three approaches to risk and vulnerability reduction that have become particularly prominent in recent years are social protection, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation. Social protection’ describes all public and private initiatives that provide income or consumption transfers to the poor, protect the vulnerable against livelihood risks, and enhance the social status and rights of the marginalised (Devereux and Sabates-Wheeler, 2006).

Although these approaches have much in common, such as a concern with building livelihood resilience, they have developed as separate approaches over the last two decades. However, given the increasingly complex and interlinked array of risks that poor and vulnerable people face, it is likely that social protection, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation will not be sufficient in the long run if they continue to be applied in isolation from one another. In addition, there are considerable potential advantages to looking across approaches and finding ways of maximising effectiveness and efficiency in the field whilst avoiding duplication of effort.

Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) has been developed as an approach that combines key elements of social protection, DRR and climate change adaptation as a means to increase the livelihoods resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable people. In doing so, it aims to simultaneously tackle unsafe living conditions, counter the underlying causes of vulnerability, and promote people’s ability to adapt to a changing climate.

In April 2010, IDS was awarded funding for a new Programme entitled ‘Adaptive Social Protection in the Context of Agriculture and Food Security’ by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The Programme aims to enhance the ability of governments and development agencies in developing countries to build the resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable people to the impacts of climate change by:
  1. ensuring that social protection and DRR approaches and instruments are taken into consideration when designing and implementing climate change adaptation programmes, and
  2. enabling social protection and DRR programmes to reduce poverty in a period of changing climate shocks and stresses.
Adaptive Social Protection: Mapping the Evidence and Policy Context in the Agriculture Sector in South Asia
Farmer tending crops
A. Vitale / Panos Pictures
This paper assesses the ways in which social protection, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation are being brought together in development policy and practice. In particular, the study looks at agricultural programmes implemented in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

Social protection, DRR and climate change adaptation: making the links

Social protection, DRR and climate change adaptation have mutual measures and broad objectives. They all seek to mitigate risks faced by poor people. They tackle the impact of, and seek to build resilience against, shocks and stresses on livelihoods. More . . .


Making social protection work for climate variability and change

 Agriculture and other types of natural resource-dependent societies in developing countries are coming under increasing pressure due to climate change. This is predicted to have knock-on effects for rural livelihoods and attainment of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1, which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. More . . .


Climate impacts on social protection systems

It is becoming increasingly recognised that social initiatives in the agricultural and food security sectors are as much at risk from climate change as other development approaches, and are unlikely to succeed in reducing poverty if they do not consider the short and long-term shocks associated with climate change. More . . .

Latest Documents

Adaptive Social Protection in Rwanda: A No-Regrets Approach to Increased Resilience in a Territorial Planning Context
P. B. Siegel / Institute of Development Studies UK 2011
This paper will highlight the potential for Social Protection (SP) policies and programs in Rwanda to increase household and community resilience by lowering vulnerability and increasing the capacity for poor and vulnerable households...
Strategy outlining how social protection can work in the best possible way
World Bank 2012
This paper is an overview of the World Bank’s strategy on social protection and labour. It argues that social protection and labour systems, programmes and policies buffer individuals from shocks and equip them to improve their ...
Integration in the spheres of social protection, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction
C. Béné (ed); A. Newsham; A. de la Fuente / World Bank 2012
Awareness of the experiences of greater integration in social protection (SP), climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) has significantly increased in recent years. This document presents the discussions and r...
Getting the most from Integrated Assessment Modelling
A., G Patt; D., P van Vuuren; F Berkhout / Springerlink 2010
The history of Integrated Assessment Modelling and climate change are closely interlinked, and as new information and ideas come to light, it becomes necessary to incorporate them into the Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) currently...
How Adaptive Social Protection can benefit the agricultural sector in south Asia
A. Arnall; K. Oswald; M. Davies; T. Mitchell; C. Coirolo / Institute of Development Studies UK 2010
The concept of Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) refers to a series of measures which aims to build resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable people to climate change by combining elements of social protection (SP), disaster risk r...
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The ASP Programme is managed by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

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