Social inclusion in productive safety net programmes (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1005)



What has worked in achieving social inclusion in labour-intensive productive safety net programmes in the agricultural sector? Consider analysis, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Where possible, draw on evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Key findings

Evidence is scattered and quite limited, with a heavy slant towards Ethiopia. Multi-country literature offers the following on social inclusion:

  • ### Lessons for projects, programmes and policies

- Community participation: beneficiary outreach is key. Participatory targeting, project selection and monitoring are useful, though attention needs to be paid to exclusion, corruption or elite capture.

  • Each type of targeting can have positive or negative impacts; a combination tailored to context is useful.
  • Supporting broader types of public works helps to include people who cannot take part in demanding or time-consuming physical labour.
  • Implementation: lessons include addressing women and men’s experiences; strengthening staff skills and participatory design; training staff; maximising linkages between social protection and programmes for empowerment, capacity and skills; rigorous M&E; and dedicating resources to anti-discrimination.
  • Transformation: strategies against political capture include clarity and transparency, a complaints mechanism and external oversight. Tailored interventions can counter inequalities inside households, e.g. individual entitlements for women.
  • M&E is understudied. Capacity-building, community involvement and high-quality light evaluations are useful.
  • Policies must be equity-based. Programmes have worked in low-income crisis or fragile contexts.
  • ### Interventions for specific groups

- Women and children: policies can address gendered risks. Entry points include quotas, the organisation of worksites (especially childcare) and wage modalities. Targeting should disaggregate households by individual.
- Other groups: solutions are identified for youth (e.g. skills training), persons with disabilities (e.g. social assistance and empowerment), and pastoralists (e.g. accounting for mobility). A case study on Ethiopia offers lessons on: interventions for specific groups (with regard to gender, HIV/AIDS, pastoralists); participation and selection (the politics of inclusion, the selection of participants, participation, graduation); and M&E.


Combaz, E. Social inclusion in productive safety net programmes (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1005). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 13 pp.

Social inclusion in productive safety net programmes (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1005)

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