Adaptative Social Protection (ASP)

Traditional social protection helps to protect individuals against economic and social risks, such as loss of income due to illness, unemployment, old age or accidents at work. It includes, for example, family allowances, retirement pensions, unemployment insurance, sickness and disability insurance, housing benefit, etc.

Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) goes beyond these traditional mechanisms, by adding responsiveness and flexibility to address unforeseen crises and shocks.

It involves, for example, temporarily extending social cover to include people affected by a natural disaster, or anticipating a shock by granting a cash transfer before the expected arrival of a flood in order for families to be prepared.

Therefore, adaptive social protection can strengthen traditional social protection systems with more dynamic, preventive and integrated systems, in order to better manage crises and strengthen people’s resilience.

Cash transfer (Mauritania)

Droughts and floods are becoming increasingly frequent and severe in the Sahel, one of the world’s poorest regions. These climatic shocks further exacerbate weak household livelihoods, fragility and growing insecurity.

In the Sahel, adaptive social protection is a crucial instrument to address the unequal impacts of climate change and strengthen the resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.

The Sahel countries have demonstrated their willingness to strengthen social protection and develop adaptive social protection systems. While each country has progressed along its own path, all have implemented at least one social safety net and several social protection programmes, both contributory and non-contributory. However, overall coverage of these programmes remains low, varying between 6% and 20%, compared with a global average of 47%. This low coverage also reflects limited public spending in this sector. So far, policy frameworks for social safety nets have focused more on chronic problems, such as tackling structural poverty and vulnerability, rather than on specific risks, such as drought or flooding.

Impact studies show that adaptive social protection in the Sahel has many positive impacts, both on the well-being of households and on society as a whole. It is a highly profitable investment.

ASP can have strong positive impacts on poverty, food insecurity, productivity and resilience; combined with significant broader impacts on the economy, society, and future generations.

Infographic on the strong impacts of adaptive social protection in the Sahel (World Bank, SASPP programme)

Click on the image to see a larger version

For example:

  • In Mauritania, adaptive social protection led to a 29% increase in income, as well as a diversification of activities, adding non-agricultural activities to the usual agricultural and pastoral activities. ASP strengthens resilience by helping households to maintain their consumption and use of basic services during crises, rather than selling their assets to survive.
  • In Niger, during a drought, beneficiary households maintained their level of consumption, unlike non-beneficiaries, who had to reduce it by 24%.
  • In Mali, social safety nets increased by 56% the chances of a teenage girl enrolled in school progressing to the next grade.
  • At community level, ASP programs have a substantial impact on the local economy. For every dollar invested, the incomes in the local economy increase by between $1.30 to $2.50. It is also a major factor in social inclusion and cohesion.
Mauritania: Tekavoul, breaking the poverty chain

Sahelian social safety net initiatives are supported by members of the Sahel Alliance. Thanks to this support, more than 1.5 million people benefited from social safety nets, between 2018 and 2022.

One of the most important programmes implemented by Sahel Alliance members is the SASPP (Sahel Adaptative Social Protection Program), a multi-donor trust fund managed by the World Bank, to which several Sahel Alliance members contribute financially.

In December 2023, under the German and World Bank presidency of the Sahel Alliance, a coordination group was created to strengthen members’ understanding, coordination and common approaches to adaptive social protection. The aim is to support an increase in the coverage of adaptive social protection in the Sahel, as well as improving the coherence and convergence of programmes linked to ASP.

Read the position paper from the Temporary Coordination Group on Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) in the Sahel (May 2024)

Main Resources

Social protection website

Knowledge-sharing and capacity-building platform open to social protection practitioners, policy-makers and experts, as well as academics and students

Sahel Adaptive Social Protection Programme

Multi-donor trust fund managed by the World Bank, with the participation of several members of the Sahel Alliance

Stress testing adaptive social protection systems in the Sahel

World Bank report, 2023

Foundations of social protection delivery systems (in French)

Publication of the World Bank, 2022



ASP Impacts

Infographic illustrating the major impacts of ASP in the Sahel



Stories from the Field

Social Protection in Mauritania: Breaking the Chain of Intergenerational Poverty

Impact of the Tekavoul programme in Mauritania and testimonials from beneficiaries (Sahel Alliance website)

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