Pioneering research programme to boost responsiveness to shocks amongst vulnerable communities
New project seeks to improve responses to repeated humanitarian disasters.
OPM is leading an innovative, two-year project examining the ability of social protection systems to respond to recurrent or protracted shocks in some of the poorest and most vulnerable regions of the world. The study is one of over 20 long-term research projects that comprise DFID’s Humanitarian Innovation and Evidence Programme (HIEP), an initiative seeking to improve the quality, quantity and use of evidence in humanitarian programming in low-income and fragile and conflicted-affected states (FCAS).
Our team will investigate the factors that constrain, or enable, rapid and effective response to frequently occurring or protracted disasters, both natural and man-made – such as droughts and floods – strengthening the current evidence base and helping inform future humanitarian policymaking. Central to the research will be a series of case studies in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. These will be accompanied by extensive interviews with key informants, consultation workshops and events, and a detailed literature review of global, regional and national interventions.
Clare O’Brien, project manager and senior consultant at Oxford Policy Management, said: “This is a really exciting initiative. By supporting the international community to understand how to make social protection schemes more responsive to shocks, we are laying the groundwork for robust systems that reduce the impact of what would otherwise be devastating humanitarian disasters.”
Scaling-up social protection schemes
Through the scaling-up of existing interventions, the gap between humanitarian responses and longer-term development assistance could be narrowed, minimising negative shock impacts in the process.
In some areas, local or regional cash transfer schemes act as safety nets, cushioning households against external shocks and reducing the need to resort to negative coping strategies such as selling off valuable livestock resources. Our study will investigate the extent to which these schemes can be expanded – in both scope and reach – to support even more people. We will look at how to shift the focus away from reactive emergency relief that focuses on rebuilding lives post-disaster and towards long-term planning and preparedness, for improved livelihoods.
Clare O’Brien added: “By assessing the barriers to, and opportunities for, scale-up of existing programmes, we are helping to ensure that such policy work is cost-effective, drawing on our knowledge of what already works to support lasting, sustainable interventions.”