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?
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.