Social Protection in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons from South Africa   [open pdf - 1MB]

From the Abstract: "South Africa responded to the stresses of the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic and lockdown using a combination of existing social protection programmes, unemployment insurance, and additional measures to support those most affected. This paper reviews policies and implementation with the objective of highlighting lessons for the global community, including on the use of digital mechanisms. The government adopted a two-pronged and largely cash-based approach: unemployment benefits for formal sector workers and cash transfers to vulnerable individuals, informal workers, and beneficiaries of existing grants. Top-up payments for existing grants were rolled out efficiently; the new Special Relief of Distress (SRD) grant posed challenges but ultimately succeeded in reaching over six million previously uncovered beneficiaries. It may even become a permanent feature of South Africa's social protection system. Overall, the government reached over 30 million South Africans with cash-based relief measures. A distinctive feature of cash-based emergency relief was the use of digital technologies, especially in the application and verification process for the new SRD grant. The payment system, however, relied heavily on manual cash disbursements, thus failing to reflect the adoption of innovative digital technologies observed in many other African countries."

Report Number:
CGD Policy Paper 252; Center for Global Development Policy Paper 252
Center for Global Development. Posted here with permission. Document is under a Creative Commons license and requires proper attribution and noncommercial use to be shared: [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/]
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Center for Global Development: https://www.cgdev.org/
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