Adaptive Social Protection: A justification for enhancing social protection effectiveness in Lesotho

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Davina Durgana


The purpose of this Independent Practitioner Inquiry Capstone (IPIC) is to generate evidence that scaling up social protection systems in response to humanitarian emergencies minimizes negative shock impacts on affected populations and reduces the need for separate humanitarian responses. The study used case comparison of food security and livelihoods outcomes for households in three categories (i.) households receiving separate emergency assistance, (ii.) with those receiving emergency and social protection programs, and (iii.) a model case of targeted and early scaled up social services. The research hypothesis is that well-targeted social protection interventions that are easily scalable during crisis periods are a more efficient and effective form of response to emergencies compared to separate humanitarian action. The research used secondary data methods through a review of academic and professional literature on social protection in general and on Adaptive Social Protection. The literature review was also done on the social protection policy and strategy implementation in Lesotho. The additional secondary method was a re-analysis of vulnerability data collected by the Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee as a way of generating quantitative evidence on the case comparisons to demonstrate the research hypothesis. Additionally, interviews with key informants from organizations in Lesotho were done to gather further insights into the research. The research revealed several key findings; (i) there is need for targeting of social protection activities based on vulnerability, (ii.) targeting will allow multiple transfers of resources to the poorest, (iii.) in the event of disasters, top-up of existing well-targeted social protection is a cheaper and effective way of responding to the disasters, and (iv.) reforming social protection will enhance efficient use of resources and enable households to build adaptive capacity in non-emergency years and facilitate quick recovery post disasters. In Lesotho, this reform is possible for child grants program, public assistance and public works programs which are more flexible and fit in the design of Adaptive Social Protection. In using Adaptive Social Protection designs, this research provides evidence that the emergency response that took place in Lesotho in 2016 could have adequately addressed the needs of the population at $12 million dollars cheaper than the separate emergency.


Economic Policy | Food Security | Growth and Development | Income Distribution | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Policy | Social Policy | Social Welfare

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