Whether in a state welfare system or donor-funded programme, the fundamental questions around social protection can be summarised as who and how: who should receive the support, and how should that support be provided? Yet though superficially simple, these are highly complex decisions - particularly in the poorest societies, where any form of social protection is a political issue, and where networks to distribute social payments are less established.
Accurate poverty measurement and analysis is critical both for the design and monitoring of development strategies and projects. Yet, still too often, poverty is not correctly measured and assessed due to either data limitations or analytical mistakes. In addition, the multi-dimensional nature of poverty poses substantial methodological challenges that should not be underestimated.
Social protection can be defined as the set of policies and programmes designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by diminishing people's exposure to economic and social risks, enhancing their capacity to protect themselves from these risks, and reducing the impact of shocks that occur.
An increasing emphasis on pro-poor growth and understanding of the role of risk and vulnerability in sustaining poverty has given social protection an ever more prominent role in efforts to reduce poverty and inequality across the developing world. However, providing social protection support to potentially large sections of the population poses difficult choices about how domestic and aid resources should be allocated. It is essential that decisions are based on evidence regarding effectiveness and efficiency.