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The World Bank currently supports over 350 million individuals with social safety net programs worldwideCOVID-19 saw the largest scale up of social safety net transfers in history.  And just last year, in response to the global food crisis, social protection responses more than doubled.

An estimated 36 percent of the poorest people escaped extreme poverty because of social safety nets, providing clear evidence that social safety net programs have a substantial impact in the global fight against poverty. The evidence base continues to mount on the value of layered social safety nets  in diverse settings such as  IndiaAfghanistanNicaragua, and the Sahel.

Data shows that these programs lower inequality, and reduce the poverty gap by about 45 percent. These positive effects of safety net transfers hold true for low and middle-income countries alike.  

Yet in low-income countries around one in five of the world’s poorest people still lack safety net coverage.

Yet we know that safety nets cash transfers not only help nations invest in human capital, but also serve as a source of income for poor people, 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: Mar 28, 2024

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