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About the Poverty and Social Protection team

Our team provides social protection expertise across the policy cycle, from research through to policy design, support to implementation and monitoring and evaluation – with a cross-cutting focus on poverty and inequality.


Our research and analysis – whether desk based or primary data collection through quantitative surveys or qualitative methods – bridges the gap between practitioners and academics. We respond to policy-relevant questions and build on our experience designing, implementing, and evaluating programmes. For example, in leading an important three-year study on shock-responsive social protection systems, we strengthened the evidence base on how systems can scale up in response to shocks in low-income, fragile and conflict-affected states. Our findings were shared through various publications, conferences, webinars, and online communities. We have also recently completed a rigorous systematic review of the evidence base on the impact of cash transfers together with the Overseas Development Institute and led a seminal study on data and information integration for social protection.

We have a strong focus on drawing out and sharing key lessons from past projects and have published working papers on a wider range of topics. Recent examples include:

  • The conditions for conditionality in cash transfers.
  • How to set up of comprehensive monitoring and evaluation systems for social safety nets.
  • Can social protection affect psychosocial wellbeing and why does this matter?

Policy design

Over the past 10 years, we have helped elaborate comprehensive national social protection strategies or policies in Algeria, Angola, Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique, and Oman. We support governments in many areas, including the following:

  • Conceptualisation. We draw on our extensive political economy experience, and the knowledge and insights of our in-country partners, to understand local scenarios, actors, and institutions.
  • Diagnosis. We conduct comprehensive research, including in-country workshops and data analysis, to assess demand for social protection (‘who needs it?’) and the existing services and resources. We use organisational capacity assessment, benefit-incidence analysis, and microsimulations of changes in policy, among other tools, to identify strengths and gaps in current programming and regulations.
  • Vision. We work with governments to orientate the policy process, producing a vision document that incorporates their key objectives and priorities.
  • Policy drafting. We support ministries in drafting their social protection policies or strategies, outlining programmes of work that assign a clear budget, timetable for delivery, and institutional responsibility.
  • Medium-term planning. We assist governments to draw up medium-term budgets and action plans that outline priority activities and identify implementers and associated costs.

Support to programme design and implementation

We develop programmes based on rigorous assessment of country context, support drafting of legislation to translate policy into laws and regulations, and build capacity in administrative functions. For example, we have supported the design and implementation of a minimum income benefit in Moldova, a food stamp programme in Mongolia, a public employment programme in Nepal, and a child support programme in Bihar, India. Our work administrative support systems includes a focus on the following:

  • Targeting design and implementation. We have provided analyses to improve targeting of beneficiaries in Kenya, Lesotho, Zambia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, and Macedonia, among others.
  • Payment delivery. We have supported governments to develop and maintain a predictable payment schedule (e.g. in Bihar, Moldova and Malawi) and have researched payment systems in Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda and Myanmar.
  • Management Information Systems (MIS) and data integration. We have designed, developed, operationalised and tested programme MIS and researched the role of integration (e.g. Social Registries).
  • Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems. Our approach - guided by our experience with the creation of systems in Mozambique, Ghana, Moldova, and Mongolia - is focused on ensuring useful information feeds back into programme management and reporting.
  • Accountability, grievance, and redressal. We incorporate voice and accountability into programme design. We have analysed grievance practices in Indonesia, Kenya and Uganda, and supported their revision in Zambia and Moldova.
  • Programme graduation. We have evaluated complex graduation programmes, such as the Chars Livelihood Programme in Bangladesh. Our approach to programme design, implementation, and evaluation consistently encompasses a focus on distinguishing between programme exit and sustainable graduation.

Monitoring and evaluation

In coordination with OPM’s Monitoring and Evaluation team, we have considerable experience in carrying out independent evaluations for a variety of governments and development partners. These include independent assessments and live monitoring of social protection programme operations and performance, as well as process reviews and impact evaluations to assess impact on individuals, households, communities, and local economies. We incorporate a focus on both intended and unintended effects and are fluent with a wide range of evaluation methods, including experimental and quasi-experimental quantitative techniques. We often adopt a mixed-method approach, stressing the importance of combining quantitative impact analysis with qualitative research to help understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions that quantitative methods alone don’t answer.
Examples of our recent or ongoing mixed method evaluations include:

  • Kenya’s Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP), Phase 1 and Phase 2, and Cash Transfer Programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC);
  • Uganda’s Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE);
  • Lesotho’s Child Grant Programme (CGP);
  • Kazakhstan’s BOTA Social Sector Programmes;
  • Pakistan’s Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and flood relief cash transfer programmes (CDCP), Phase 1 and Phase 2; and
  • Mongolia’s Food and Nutrition Social Welfare Programme (FNSWP).

We also carry out stand-alone qualitative evaluations of social protection programmes, including on local economic and social impacts of cash transfers across six African countries, Zimbabwe’s Emergency Cash Transfer Programme (ZECT), Somalia’s Cash for Work programme, Kenya’s Korogocho cash transfer, and Nepal’s Emergency Cast Transfer Programme.

A cross-cutting focus on poverty and inequality

We provide high-quality expertise in the area of welfare measurement, focusing in particular on issues relating to monetary poverty, inequality, multidimensional poverty, and child poverty. Our expertise ranges from diagnostic work and capacity building, through policy development and forecast, to impact evaluation and assessment.

  • Diagnostic work: We have carried out a number of situation analyses for UNICEF, including in Mozambique and Angola, as well as a series of poverty diagnostics for the World Bank in the WASH sector, to try to identify usage patterns and bottlenecks in access to services.
  • Capacity building: We have worked with a number of statistical offices including in Moldova, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Rwanda to strengthen their poverty and inequality monitoring and measuring capacity. We recently conducted a training on child poverty measurement to produce updated child poverty estimates for Tanzania and develop Zanzibar's specific estimates. In Vietnam we produced a child poverty report, using the multidimensional child poverty index that is specific to Vietnam.
  • Policy development and forecasting: In Nepal, we carried out a benefit incidence analysis to estimate the impact of health expenditures on poor households. In Kenya and Angola, we have carried out advanced microsimulation exercises to estimate the impact of social protection policies on monetary and multidimensional poverty.
  • Impact evaluation and assessment: We have conducted poverty and inequality measurements in a number of different impact evaluation projects, including in Mongolia, Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan.

Our people

The Poverty and Social Protection team is led by Stephanie Brokerhoff. 

Ludovico Carraro is a principal consultant at OPM with 20 years’ experience. He has provided technical assistance and advice in the area of poverty and inequality analysis to many statistical offices, supporting the measurement of poverty, generating poverty profiles and also looking at social exclusion and overlapping deprivations. He worked in the construction of welfare aggregates and the setting of poverty lines defining the methodology for poverty measurement in more than 10 countries. Ludovico has also supported the design and implementation of various social protection programmes in eastern Europe, central and east Asia with a focus on minimum income schemes, and currently collaborates in the Master of Social Protection of the University of Bonn-Rhein-Sieg.

Sebastian Silva Leander’s main research is in poverty and inequality analysis, with special interest in multidimensional poverty and human development. Before joining OPM, Sebastian worked for seven years for the United Nations as an economist and advisor on strategic planning issues in New York, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He holds a PhD in Economics from St Anthony’s College, Oxford, and did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University.

Fred Merttens specialises in the evaluation of social protection, social policy, and poverty reduction programmes. His areas of expertise include quantitative and qualitative research, survey design and management, and M&E. He has worked for a range of donor, government, and NGO clients in Africa, the Middle East, central Asia and eastern Europe.

Rodolfo Beazley is an economist who has specialised in social protection and labour policies. He has conducted extensive research and has focused on how social protection and other social services can be adapted alongside humanitarian aid to provide effective support in the aftermath of a shock. Rodolfo holds a Masters in Economics from Universidad de San Andres and a Masters in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics.

Karin Seyfert is a senior consultant with expertise in social protection, humanitarian emergencies, migration, and M&E. Her humanitarian monitoring and evaluation work includes supporting UNHCR on a review of their global social protection strategy in SGBV , education and child protection. Karin holds a PhD in Economics from SOAS, an MSc from the Toulouse School of Economics, and an MA in Arabic and Economics from the University of Edinburgh.

Lucy Scott focuses on how social protection and livelihoods programmes can best support the poorest households. Her areas of interest include poverty dynamics, qualitative, and mixed-methods research and the cash+ and graduation agenda. Lucy holds a Masters in environmental policy from the University of Oxford and a PhD in international development from the University of Manchester, which investigated outcomes of a large-scale poverty programme in Bangladesh.

Valentina Barca focuses on how delivery systems can facilitate responsiveness and effectiveness of social protection systems. Her key areas of interest in recent years have been on integrated data and information management, digital identity, voice and accountability mechanisms, and rigorous and user-focused M&E systems - all applied to the field of social protection and including research and policy design work in a variety of countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Ramlatu Attah specialises in the design, implementation, and qualitative monitoring and evaluation of social protection programmes, with a focus on linkages with social services. She has a specialist focus on west and east Africa. Ramlatu has also worked on social protection programs in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia and holds a PhD in Social Policy from the University of Bath.

Maham Farhat has extensive experience of designing and implementing mixed methods research. She is currently based in OPM’s Myanmar office where she also leads OPM’s social policy work. Maham has evaluated social protection programmes, with a focus on social protection systems and delivery mechanisms.

Marta Marzi is a development economist specialising in poverty and inequality analysis and in the evaluation of social protection, social policy, and poverty reduction programmes. Her key areas of interest have been on shock-responsive social protection systems and the use of social protection tools in the context of forced migration. Marta holds an MSc in economics for development at the University of Oxford and an MSc in economics from Bocconi University and Université Catholique de Louvain.

Daniella Dávila Aquije has a background in policy analysis, focusing on poverty, gender, and migration. Her methodological experience focuses on the design, implementation, and analysis of qualitative evaluations. She holds a Master in Public Policy from the University of Toronto, as well as an MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation from the University of Oxford.

Alexandra Doyle is experienced in conducting mixed-methods evaluations of social protection programmes. She has been involved in designing and implementing the quantitative and qualitative components of a number of evaluations. Alexandra holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) in Economics from the University of Cape Town and an MSc in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford.

Apurva Bamezai has experience in quantitative analysis, mixed-methods impact evaluations, and process assessments. Her research pertains to government programmes, focusing on service delivery of social protection interventions. Apurva holds a BA in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, an MA in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge.

Virginia Barberis is a development economist with experience in the evaluation of social protection and poverty reduction programmes. She mainly focuses on quantitative and mixed methods impact evaluations, survey design and data management. Virginia holds a BA in Political Sciences and International Development from the University of Turin, and an MA in Development Economics from the University of Florence.