Turning the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity: what is next for... has ended
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In the aftermath of COVID-19, the need for adequate, comprehensive and high-coverage social protection has never been more evident. The pandemic has been a wake-up call, alerting national governments and the global community to the urgency of accelerating progress in building and extending social protection systems to leave no one behind.

There are clear signs that the health crisis has spurred government action on social protection. According to data from the World Bank, 200 countries and territories had planned or put in place over a thousand social protection measures in response to the pandemic by July 2020. A significant number of countries have introduced new schemes, expanded the coverage of existing ones and increased benefit amounts to address growing needs. Governments across the globe have mobilised an enormous amount of resources and effort—often struggling in the process—to protect those who were most affected by the pandemic, building on existing systems where feasible. Countries with solid social protection foundations were able to respond more swiftly and effectively.

In many countries of the global South, COVID-19 has also revealed the weaknesses of existing social protection programmes and systems. Two major shortfalls are worth highlighting:

  • significant gaps in coverage, adequacy and comprehensiveness of provision. Most countries still have a long way to go to achieve universal social protection, providing equitable access to comprehensive risk coverage through a coherent system to the entire population when in need.

  • significant delivery, implementation and capacity challenges, compounded by a lack of preparedness for programme and system adaptation (‘shock responsiveness’) to help respond to large covariate shocks.

Looking beyond the short-term ramifications of the lockdowns and disruptions of global supply chains, the medium-term effects of the global recession caused by COVID-19and their implications for different types of livelihoods in different countries are not yet clear.

Governments will need to invest further in social protection programmes and systems to ensure preparedness for—and resilience to—future, overlapping, shocks. There is currently a high demand for innovative approaches that can leverage the capacities of existing systems. In this sense, the current crisis provides a tremendous opportunity for change, which must not be wasted.

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  • Filter By Date Turning the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity: what is next for social protect Oct 5 - 8, 2020
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