Investments in local risk resilience

Social protection has emerged as an important policy instrument to utilise disaster risk finances (Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)
Social protection has emerged as an important policy instrument to utilise disaster risk finances (Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)
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The G20 Disaster Risk Resilience Working Group and UNICEF convened with delegates from the G20 countries, International Finance Institutions (IFI), United Nations agencies, civil society, private sector and community members to discuss ‘Strengthening Social Protection Systems for Climate and Disaster Risk Management’, in Mumbai.

The session, held on the side-lines of the 2nd Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group of G20 countries, deliberated on building a shared understanding among all stakeholders of making social protection system, an effective and preferred instrument for disaster risk financing. The discussions emphasized the need for new-age Social Protection Systems that invest in local risk resilience to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

Krishna Vatsa, Member NDMA, said, “Social protection is not only about poverty alleviation but also empowerment of people to thrive despite disasters. Going forward, we must pursue financial inclusion, focus on building back assets and livelihood, restore the social networks which generate trust and most importantly encourage women-led participation and development.”

Cynthia McCaffrey, UNICEF India Representative, said, “This G20 forum highlighting shock responsive social protection in disaster risk reduction is important and timely, at the mid-point of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Such systems protect the most vulnerable. Children and women in shock prone settings are most at risk of being left behind because of increasing frequency, magnitude and overlaying of shocks, especially those resulting from climate change. Protecting and empowering them is most effective through comprehensive ‘systems’ that are risk informed, flexible, and enable local governments to support the poor and most vulnerable during difficult times. We look forward to the South-South collaboration to accelerate learning and evidence-based actions in disaster prone countries to strengthen shock responsiveness of social protection systems, to reach the most vulnerable, especially children, youth and women.”

Social protection system consists of mechanisms to provide assistance for employment and livelihoods security, social housing, cash transfers, micro-insurance, financial inclusion, food security, various kinds of social services, and special assistance for vulnerable groups.

National governments, international and local institutions have a critical role to mobilize financial, technical and human capital to strengthen disaster risk management systems and other development systems to deliver resources where they are needed the most to build risk-resilience.

Social protection has emerged as an important policy instrument to utilise Disaster Risk Finances particularly for the most vulnerable groups and improve their uninterrupted access to intermediate technologies and innovative financing mechanisms for safe housing, clean drinking water, sanitation, power supply and other social sector services and facilities.

Speakers highlighted the need for strong collaboration between Disaster Risk Management and Social Protection Systems, especially at the local level, with the active support of civil society, the private sector and community-based structures.

While the civil society can actively facilitate the link between the demand and supply of support and services, the private sector can contribute to building resilient business ecosystems and enhance the effectiveness of social protection systems.

The speakers also urged governments to support community-based structures – through necessary capacity, information, and resources – to empower them to serve as first front-line responders during disasters.

A compendium of case studies entitled ‘Shock Responsive Social Protection’ highlighting good practices and lessons from G20 member countries including Indonesia, India, Brazil and South Africa, was released on this occasion. Knowledge Partners of the Compendium include UNICEF, WFP, IIED, FCDO, CARE India, Sphere India, CARITAS, GIZ, and KfW. Shock-Responsive Social Protection can contribute to strengthening disaster risk management along the four key priorities of the Sendai Framework in the following manner:

Understanding of disaster risk: Shock Responsive Social Protection supports the identification of vulnerable households and communities, the types of shocks that households and communities are vulnerable to, and the impacts of these shocks on their well-being. By incorporating a focus on populations vulnerable to shocks, social protection systems can inform disaster risk reduction strategies and improve disaster risk management. 

Strengthen disaster risk governance: Shock Responsive Social Protection can help strengthen disaster risk governance by ensuring that disaster risk reduction and management are integrated into social protection policies and programmes. Shock- Responsive Social Protection programmes can build the resilience and preparedness of households before the onset of shocks, expand and provide an infrastructure for the delivery of disaster responses during crisis and help households recover and rehabilitate after shocks. By working together, disaster risk reduction and social protection systems can enhance the overall resilience of households to shocks.

Investing in disaster risk reduction: Shock Responsive Social Protection systems can help communities and households recover from shocks more quickly and effectively. Shock-Responsive Social Protection can contribute to investments in climate and disaster-smart infrastructure. Cash transfers, access to essential goods and services, and other forms of assistance reduce the impact of shocks on household well-being and improve the effectiveness of emergency response efforts.

Enhancing disaster preparedness: Shock Responsive Social Protection systems can also enhance disaster preparedness by providing an anticipatory safety net to vulnerable households and communities that can expand in response to shocks. By ensuring that households have access to basic necessities, such as food and shelter, during and after a shock, social protection systems can help reduce the need for emergency assistance and help households and communities “Build Back Better” after a disaster. 

In line with G20 Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) working group priority areas (1) Early warning early action and (4) Strengthened national and global disaster response system to address the consequences of increasing frequency and intensity of disasters, this compilation also seeks to initiate a knowledge and learning sharing process among the G20 nations and beyond on how to strengthen social protection systems for climate and Disaster Risk Management.

The India case studies from CARE, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), Youth for Unity and  Voluntary Action (YUVA), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Caritas all illustrate how local actors, through information sharing and one-on-one follow up can help vulnerable individuals to be included into Government-provided social protection programmes, both in the aftermath of a shock as well as in anticipation of future ones, including those related to climate change. They thus contribute to making households more prepared and resilient. These case studies also highlight the importance of case/social workers on the  ground to help the most marginalized access government-provided benefits.

These case studies from India are interesting examples of programmes and projects that help households in rural areas to adapt to the effects of climate change through for instance enhancing communities´ participation in the planning processes of India´s public works programme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) worksites. By providing relevant tools and trainings, community members are encouraged to participate in the planning process of water and soil conservation structures under MGNREGS, which are critical in the context of changing rainfall patterns.

These initiatives thus aim to increase participation and empowerment, especially of female farmers while contributing to the construction of climate-smart infrastructure, as shown in the case studies from Care and Caritas.

The first UNICEF India Case Study in section one, provides important learnings in terms of how to implement a humanitarian cash transfer in an extremely challenging setting affected by a major flood and reach those children who are most in need (focussing on malnourished children). It also illustrates how a to successfully link a cash transfer to key messages and trainings on feeding practices and safe and healthy behaviours, highlighting the pivotal role of local actors. The second UNICEF India case study looks at the value of assessments in informing the development of shock responsive social protection.

Partners were called to collaborate on the development of a global knowledge exchange platform on Shock Responsive Social Protection for Climate and Disaster Risk Management.



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Post By: Amita Bhaduri
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