006 Shock-responsive Social Protection in Latin America and the Caribbean: Hype or Hope?

Supporting the humanitarian-development nexus in practice to achieve food security and nutrition for all and leave no one behind.


  • WFP
  • Oxford Policy Management (OPM)


This Side Event will discuss how national social protection systems can be prepared and used to respond to shocks, a topic of great attention globally and in Latin America and the Caribbean in particular. The panelists will unpack the topic for the audience, share experiences from the region and debate with the audience the challenges and benefits of this approach for the food security and nutrition of vulnerable and crises-affected populations.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the shift from traditional humanitarian response by international actors to nationally-led disaster risk management has already taken place. National institutions are now looking for more efficient and effective ways to meet the food security and nutrition needs of their people, especially those affected by disasters due to natural hazards and climate change. The potential of serving crises-affected people through the adaptation, expansion and use of national social protection systems is a topic of increased attention globally as well as in the region, where safety nets cover more than 200 million people. However, preparedness investments are crucial to enable shock-responsive social protection and ensure that systems are shock-proof, flexible to expand/contract, and ready before a crisis hits. This approach firmly stand-by and advances the realization of multiple global commitments: from the Agenda 2030 to the World Humanitarian Summit and the Grand Bargain, to the Agenda for Humanity and the New Way of Working: all aim to bridge the humanitarian-development divide and support localized solutions with a long-term view.

Key speakers/presenters

Moderator: Miguel Barreto, WFP Regional Director Regional Bureau for LAC


  • Francesca de Ceglie, Policy Programme Officer, WFP Rome
  • Ana Solorzano, Oxford Policy Management (OPM)
  • Government of Ecuador: Daniel Suárez, Coordinador de la Zonal 1, Ministerio de Inclusión Económica y Social (MIES)
  • Carlos Basantes, Subsecretario de Preparación y Respuesta, Secretaria de Gestión de Riesgos (SGR)
  • Asha Williams, Social Protection Specialist, World Bank, Washington DC

Main themes/issues discussed


After a brief introduction of the panel by WFP RBP Regional Director, an overview of the WFP/OPM Regional Study on Shock-Responsive Social Protection (SRSP) in LAC by WFP and OPM in 7 countries was jointly presented by WFP and OPM. The overview included a short video.

This first part of the session was followed by a panel discussion, moderated by the RBP Regional Director, where different types of stakeholders shared their insights on the role and relevance of SRSP for food security and nutrition, based on concrete country examples in LAC.

In particular, the government of Ecuador featured their national experience, starting from the earthquake response in 2016, building more systematically into national social protection systems; the World Bank shared their perspective based on regional experience in LAC and in the Caribbean; the moderator asked a set of questions to guide the conversation.

This session was followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

As a final wrap-up, all the panellists (including WFP and OPM) were requested by the moderator to provide a last one-minute takeaway message.

Summary of key points

WFP and OPM presented the rationale for the relevance of SRSP globally and for the LAC region, methodology and scope of the regional SRSP study, and some key highlights and learnings from the study.
The Government of Ecuador elaborated on the following points:

  • Ecuador’s experience on applying SRSP mechanisms in the 2016 earthquake response
  • Evolution of the national strategy on SRSP in the country since the earthquake response and the joint WFP-OPM regional study, from both perspectives of social protection (MIES) and civil protection (SGR) actors
  • Key opportunities and challenges from the Ecuador experience which can provide useful insights to other countries within the region and beyond.
  • Potential linkages and relevance of an SRSP approach to improve food security and nutrition

World Bank elaborated on their approach to shock responsive and adaptive social protection, and on how they are supporting countries in the region to strengthen their systems to be better prepared to respond to shocks. Examples provided included Peru, Jamaica, Mexico, Colombia and Caribbean countries.

Key take away messages

  • For countries in LAC, the increasing frequency and severity of shocks means that it is even more urgent to ensure that households are more resilient and that Governments and other actors can respond quickly to these impacts. This requires policy and program actions both before and after shocks occur.
  • Regional examples show growing use of social protection systems to respond to emergencies.
  • Cash transfers appear to be the most common approach in the region.
  • Social protection is intended as a complement, not as a substitute of the role of civil protection.
  • The use of social protection system can increase trust in the response.
  • Ex-ante preparedness investments, flexibility, resilience of the system itself and good communication with beneficiaries are key elements for an optimal response.
  • More mature social protection systems are more robust to be adapted during emergencies. However, SRSP approaches are still possible in more basic systems.
  • Important to assess/value when using a social protection system is useful and convenient.
  • Great opportunities to align different partners’ efforts (like the ones represented in the panel) to move this agenda forward.

Looking at the future: new frontiers to use SP in emergencies:

New geographic and thematic frontiers

  • In the Caribbean, WFP, CDEMA, World Bank, OPM and others on preparedness and adaptation;
  • Climate change: systematization on adaptive SP;
  • Migration crisis;
  • Urban contexts;
  • Measuring return on investment and compare different alternatives in different contexts;
  • Support national strategies and roadmaps;
  • South-South cooperation and experiences dissemination;
  • Invest more on inclusive SP, resilience building; prevention and early response; reducing the likeliness to need humanitarian assistance.
CFS - Side Event 006 - Shock-responsive Social Protection in Latin America and the Caribbean: Hype or Hope?