A growing number of developing countries are investing in social safety nets – to improve the lives and livelihoods of billions of poor and vulnerable people. Safety net programs include cash and in-kind transfers targeted to poor and vulnerable households, with the goal of protecting families from the impact of economic shocks, natural disasters, and other crises.
Yet in low-income countries around one in five of the world’s poor still lack safety net coverage.
Safety nets benefits as a share of the poor’s income and consumption are lowest in low-income countries, at only 13 percent. Sub-Saharan African countries spend an average of US$16 per citizen annually on safety net programs, whereas countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean region spend an average of US$158 per citizen annually. Globally, developing and transition countries spend an average of 1.5 percent of GDP on safety net programs.
Evidence now shows how safety nets cash transfers not only help nations invest in human capital, but also serve as a source of income for the poor, improving their standard of living. Today, some 2.5 billion people are covered by safety net programs and some 650 million people or 56 percent of the poorest quintile.
Last Updated: Apr 05, 2018