Social Assistance Policies in Africa
Date and Start Time 29 June, 2017 at 09:00
Social assistance programmes are now present in many African countries. This panel aims to examine the discussions around their creation, funding, implementation and evaluation; to identify and analyse the actors that are involved with them; and to study their design and results.
Social assistance is increasingly becoming an important instrument in the fight against poverty in developing countries. This is also true for several countries in Africa, which have adopted social assistance policies. Although some social protection systems date from long ago, the adoption of social assistance measures seems to be a new trend in the continent. However, the ideas and the interests that inform these policies differ significantly from case to case, as do the actors involved. This translates into different policy objectives, designs and results.
The panel invites papers that address the following and related subjects:
1. Politics and social assistance policies
2. Actors involved with the design, funding, implementation and/or evaluation of social assistance in African countries
3. Funding of social assistance programmes
4. Policy design and policy results
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Ideas and Public Policy: the case of the Child Support Grant
This paper aims to contribute to the debate on ideas and public policy. This article examines South Africa’s Child Support Grant in order to identify the ideas that have influenced its design and implementation and understand the causal relationship between these ideas and the programme.
The goal of this paper is to contribute to a wider debate on the relationship between ideas and public policy. This article examines South Africa's Child Support Grant. The aim is to identify the ideas that have influenced the programme's design and implementation in its different stages. The actors involved in the promotion of certain ideas, their strategies and the barriers and the drivers to the crystallization of the ideas into public policy are also examined.
Urbanisation, deagrarianisation and the welfare state in Africa
This paper examines whether and why deagrarianisation rather than urbanisation has driven welfare state-building across much of Africa, in contrast to the historical experience of much of Europe and Latin America.
In previous work I have argued that deagrarianisation rather than urbanisation has driven welfare state-building across much of Africa, in contrast to the historical experience of much of Europe and Latin America. Is this still true now, in the 21st century, amidst rapid urbanisation and the spectacular emergence of mega-cities in Africa? This paper examines whether, how and why urbanisation has shaped the dynamics of welfare state-building in Africa. Insofar as urbanisation has had less effect than might be expected, the paper assesses why through analysis of the political power and policy preferences of urban constituencies. The paper draws on case-study research across East and Southern Africa through the "Legislating and Implementing Welfare Policy Reforms" research programme (covering primarily Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania/Zanzibar, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Lesotho), as well as on analysis of cross-country and longitudinal data on public opinion from Afrobarometer.
Street-level challenges to determining eligibility for disability-related social assistance in African countries
This paper considers the implementation of cash transfer programmes for disabled persons in Africa, with a particular focus on Zambia and South Africa.
Previously neglected in social assistance programming in African countries, there is growing interest from donor institutions and governments in developing disability-inclusive social protection in Africa, either through categorical targeting or including them in mainstream cash transfer schemes. Accurately targeting disabled people for disability benefits is notoriously difficult, particularly in low-resource contexts, largely because of the administrative complexities of assessing the existence and severity of disability. This paper details and critiques the models and methods used to assess eligibility in existing programmes on the continent. It focuses particularly on the cases of Zambia and South Africa to illustrate some of the street-level challenges of disability determination, which are influenced both by policy design and implementation context. Both countries have experimented with multiple models of assessment, but eligibility is currently based on the findings of medical officers, who have significant discretion in interpreting and applying eligibility criteria, leading to inconsistencies in practice and inclusion and exclusion errors. Unpacking these challenges provides learnings for the development of such programmes in Africa and highlights the important role that frontline workers play in shaping social policy implementation.
(Un)conditional cash transfers in Southern Africa and "the new politics of redistribution"
Cash transfer programs, introduced in a number of African countries, represent a "new politics of redistribution", which, among other things, seriously questions a widespread belief on a very foundations of the welfare state.
The rise of neoliberal ideology during the 1980s and 1990s was almost universally followed by the major transformation of the welfare state, characterized by the "silent surrender of the public responsibility". Welfare reforms had strong emphasis on the "personal responsibility" over rights, and the whole system became more restrictive.
At the same time, the region of Southern Africa, despite a strong influence of neoliberalism, took a different path regarding the social welfare. A "new way of thinking" about poverty, unemployment and social rights emerged and the region became a valuable source of some ingenious and innovative responses to the most urgent social risks.
It became self-evident that wage labor based livelihoods are simply not going to return and that a new forms of redistribution had to be installed. The focus had been shifted from the production to the redistribution and (un)conditional cash transfers were introduced, rooted in a strong conviction that "it is better to give money to the poor people directly" so that they can find an effective ways to escape from the poverty trap. These programs are non-contributory, paid directly from the state, while payments are made regardless of employment history. They represent a "rightful entitlement to income".
Rigorous evaluations suggest that cash transfer programs reduce immediate poverty, improve nutrition, stimulate local economy, promote investment and help creating jobs, and, at the same time, contribute to the deconstruction of the widespread and persistent myths on welfare and welfare recipients.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.