Shocks, such as natural disasters or major market fluctuations, can push vulnerable people into destitution or malnutrition, which is very difficult to recover from.
Social protection consists of policies and programmes designed to shelter people, throughout their lives, from having this happen. It is critical in reducing poverty and inequality, and in promoting inclusive growth.
A subset of social protection policies, social safety nets are meant to provide the most vulnerable with predictable support in the form of food, goods, cash or vouchers.
With almost 370 million global beneficiaries, school feeding is the most common safety net in the world. School meals get the poorest and most vulnerable children to school and keep them there.
Balanced meals lead to higher nutritional status and better grades. When the food is sourced locally, school meals programmes can also boost local agricultural development.
By tackling vulnerability and hunger, social protection programmes and safety nets directly contribute to the achievements of Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2. Despite this, over 70 percent of the world population lives without adequate social protection.
Less than a third of employed women worldwide receive any maternity benefits, in either cash or in-kind food, during the final stages of pregnancy or in the months after childbirth.
WFP has world-leading expertise in designing and delivering safety nets that reduce hunger and malnutrition, such as school meals programmes or insurance schemes that protect against crop loss. It has theknow-how in house to design the safety nets in such a way that they target the most vulnerable and deliver the food or cash in the most cost-effective manner. It has also developed state-of-the-art technology to electronically manage the millions transfers and beneficiaries in the schemes.
WFP uses this expertise to support national governments that seek to establish or improve their national social protection systems. It provides technical assistance and builds capacities in every stage of the process, from the design, targeting and implementation, to the monitoring and management of information. The aim is to ensure that safety net and social protection interventions effectively and efficiently reach those who are most vulnerable and least accessible.