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Sahel Adaptive Social Protection Program (ASPP)

The Sahel Adaptive Social Protection Program (ASPP) was launched in March 2014 to support the design and implementation of adaptive social protection programs and systems in six Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal).  The program is funded by a multidonor trust fund managed by the World Bank’s Social Protection and Labor team, with significant collaboration from the Bank’s Disaster Risk Management, Gender, Social Development, Disaster Risk Financing, Poverty, and Climate Change Global Practices/Cross-Cutting Solution Areas. The UK Department for International Development has committed funding of £47 million over 5 years (2014–19) to the program. The World Bank is discussing a possible contribution to the ASPP with the Agence Française de Développement and the German government.

The envisioned adaptive social protection systems in the Sahel would consist of a combination of policies and programs to help poor and vulnerable households build resilience, reduce the impact of climatic change and other shocks, and foster access to income earning opportunities. The trust fund supports technical assistance, capacity building, and pilots covering the following elements:

  • Safety nets programs that can be easily scaled up to respond to climate-related and other types of shocks.
  • Complementary activities with a strong focus on training on basic skills and livelihood diversification, sanitary and health practices, nutrition awareness programs.
  • Linkages to early warning and climate information systems to design effective emergency response and adaptation programs.
  • Design of contingency (risk) financing mechanisms to complement and support social protections systems.
  • Design and development of targeting mechanisms to identify ex-ante those most vulnerable to natural hazards and climate change related risks, and quickly scale up a program in case of necessity.
  • Monitoring systems to improve governance and accountability.

The majority of the resources are disbursed in the form of direct grants to governments for piloting, promising learning and innovative programs and institutions. It is expected that those grants will contribute to building institutions and procedures for setting up adaptive social protection systems and create relevant policy evidence. The remaining resources, managed by the World Bank, are to be used for creating and disseminating knowledge through the analysis of poverty, climate change risk and other sources of vulnerability, labor market policies, employment opportunities, and program practices among others. Support is also provided for impact evaluations, process evaluations, targeting analysis, and other types of assessments of government pilots and programs.

This work program is being implemented through regional and stand-alone country level activities. Country activities are designed to be an integral part of the ongoing World Bank effort in the supporting the establishment of safety net systems through existing Safety Net projects.

The World Bank's 2010 World Development Report highlighted the importance of access to health, education, and social protection for people to cope with climate shocks and climate changes. The Bank’s social protection strategy has three objectives in that regard:

  1. improve resilience by insuring against shocks; 
  2. strengthen equity by protecting against destitution and stimulating equality of opportunities; and 
  3. promote better economic and social prospects for all through improved access to health, nutrition, education, and skills development

In Africa, the Bank’s strategy underscores the importance of social protection in responding to changing climates and in strengthening resilience to shocks, supporting the use of instruments such as cash transfers or crop insurances, and new technologies including mobile phone applications.  

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Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) was developed as a framework, linking the roles and tools of social protection with approaches on mitigating shocks from climate change. Nations vulnerable to the impacts of climate change can better manage risk by integrating Disaster Risk Management (DRM) with Social Protection, improving capacities for humanitarian aid to respond to and anticipate the impacts of climate changes while strengthening the economic opportunities of vulnerable groups.

Climate-adaptive initiatives of disaster risk management use early warning systems and community-based disaster-preparedness, while social protection approaches help vulnerable groups diversify their sources of revenue with cash-for-work activities in which they are trained with new skills and/or build infrastructure limiting the effects of floods or droughts. The tools (vulnerability assessments, unified registries, or service delivery systems) developed for Disaster Risk Management and Social Protection help identify and reach people living in disaster-prone areas and can be used to scale up social protection and/or humanitarian support in case of acute crises. Social safety nets are now on the rise among low-income countries in Africa. These programs routinely cushion poor and vulnerable people against losses of income that could force them to cut down on nutritious food for their families, take their children out of school, or make distress sales of precious assets such as livestock.

The “adaptive” approach integrates basic social protection with disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change. For example, it could help countries to anticipate climate-related events such as droughts and quickly scale up cash transfers via their social safety net programs in response. Also, public works supported by social safety nets—in which able-bodied adults work for cash or food—could help build climate-resilient infrastructure in vulnerable areas, and avoid subprojects that make it harder rather than easier to adapt to climate change.

The Trust Fund will support the documentation of social protection knowledge in the Sahel out of a range of programs and activities such as this one—including evidence of what works and what doesn’t in individual countries—and will contribute to a growing body of analytical work and rigorous evaluation of social protection in Sub-Saharan Africa.

While drawing on country experiences in Africa, Latin America, and other developing regions, the trust fund will also encourage specific innovations suited to the Sahel. In addition, it will provide complementary funding alongside the World Bank Group’s support for the Sahelian countries, which is through IDA, its fund for the poorest countries.



In Ethiopia, a promising integrated approach to manage climate risk is developing. The government has a long experience dealing with humanitarian interventions, as well as running the Productive Safety Nets Program (PSNP) that has evolved from a short-term food security intervention to a large-scale social protection program aiming to deal with the roots cause of vulnerability. It then used lessons from the PSNP to develop a national social protection strategy and an institutional framework that aims to integrate disaster-risk management, social protection and climate change adaptation. It highlights the importance of shifting from managing the effects of disasters to reducing disaster risk. A more pro-active approach that is multi-sectoral. The social protection contribution to disaster risk management is a scalable social safety net that can expand its coverage to protect vulnerable groups ahead of shocks, and to reach out to new beneficiaries during crises. 

More recently in Niger, a national program to prevent and manage food insecurity and disasters has been gradually integrating disaster risk management elements including early warning systems and humanitarian response capacity into an expanding national system of social protection. The program is set up to rapidly scale up its activities that support disaster-prevention and relief activities.

Under the Adaptive Social Protection Program (ASPP), six countries in the Sahel have been developing social protection strategies that prioritize investment in long-term, comprehensive, adaptive systems. Each country’s targeted program of investments has been developed in close consultation with the World Bank country team to complement and leverage current International Development Association (IDA) support.

In Burkina Faso, the ASPP contributes to improving the design of safety nets for poor and vulnerable households and to strengthening their ability to respond to shocks and build household resilience. In close collaboration with the country management unit the team is planning and identifying activities that will lay the foundation for a comprehensive national social protection system. Key activities have already enabled analysis of the country’s fragility and vulnerability context, and fostered a better understanding of how safety nets can contribute to improved response to shocks. In 2016, the team will continue to provide technical activities to harmonize social protection systems and prepare for the work program.

In Chad, the ASPP aims to update the existing social protection strategy to further integrate disaster risk management and climate resilience, strengthen the existing early warning system to better anticipate the impact and occurrence of hazards on the poorest, and strengthen monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of efforts to prevent and respond to the country’s food crisis. The policy and analytical work performed to date has been integral to Chad’s completing its social protection strategy. It has also informed the World Bank’s strategy in Chad, highlighting important elements and priorities in social protection, adaptive safety nets, increased resilience, and improved livelihoods.

Social protection is a key element in Mali’s poverty reduction strategy, and the objective of the ASPP in Mali is to expand current engagement on social safety nets toward developing adaptive social programs to increase the coverage, resilience, and livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable. The team is conducting several analytical activities including the development of a monitoring system and an assessment of basic needs, institutional arrangements, and public work activities that could be used in the ASPP. In 2016, technical activities to develop adaptive social protection systems will continue, along with laying the groundwork for the country-implemented work program.

In Mauritania, the ASPP is strongly linked with the World Bank’s regional project on pastoralism, since the services the two initiatives provide to the poor can be highly complementary and offer an opportunity to quickly enroll pastoral populations in the social registry in case of emergencies. The ASPP finances the establishment of key building blocks of the national social safety net system, including adaptable social protection tools, as well as design and implementation of modules to promote household resilience to shocks and adaptation among conditional cash transfer program beneficiaries. Technical support is also provided on a vulnerability analysis, adaptation of the early warning system to trigger social protection responses to crises, and defining mechanisms and measures to respond to shocks and promote resilience.

In Niger, ASPP will provide support for poverty mapping, including climatic risks; a review of the existing social protection strategy to ensure that climate-related vulnerabilities and mitigating measures to enhance resilience within communities are effectively addressed; and a capacity needs assessment to facilitate the effective delivery of the revised social protection strategy. Support and technical assistance will be provided for the design of tools to promote resilience in social protection interventions as well as rigorous learning on their implementation and effectiveness. ASPP financing will also help support an existing IDA-funded safety net operation to test innovative approaches for supporting resilient livelihoods and implementing adaptive cash-for-work projects.

The ASPP supports Senegal’s capacity to implement adaptive social assistance programs and build the resilience of the most vulnerable households, complementing ongoing and planned World Bank support in the country. Program activities are fully aligned with the Senegal Country Partnership Strategy and with government plans and the National Strategy for Social Development. The ASPP supports the design of adaptive safety net mechanisms—including mechanisms for existing programs to address crises, additional measures to promote resilience, and new programs such as public works to respond to shocks—broadening of the country’s early warning systems to trigger social protection responses to shocks; expansion of the national registry of vulnerable households to include those vulnerable to shocks; and implementation of adaptive social assistance programs that help prevent shocks or mitigate their impacts.


Burkina Faso