The Food and Agriculture Organization and World Bank have launched an introductory e-learning course on social safety nets, aimed at providing an overview of safety net programmes and how they are used and customized for different contexts to reduce poverty and build food security.
Social safety nets are generally transfer programmes aimed at helping the poor or those who are vulnerable to shocks. They can include such elements as cash transfers, public works programmes that provide unskilled workers with jobs on labour-intensive projects and subsidies or fee waivers to ease access to goods and such services as education or health care.
“In volatile situations, safety nets play a vital role in building resilience to crisis and can be the key to breaking the cycle of mutually reinforcing poverty and hunger,” said FAO’s Luca Russo, who manages a European Union-FAO effort, Food Security Information for Decision Making, which provides access to a suite of e-learning and training materials that includes the new course, as well as other information related to food security.
The four-hour course, Introduction to Social Safety Nets, is available free of charge and is aimed at decision makers who may not be technical experts but still need to understand safety nets’ role in cutting poverty and increasing food security.
Six lessons cover the structure and role of social safety net programmes; how to target and reach beneficiaries; and issues related to management information systems, monitoring and evaluation, and communication. Case studies provide examples of good practices.
After passing a test, users will receive a certificate of completion. The course also contains resources for trainers which can be customized to local needs.
“This course will appeal to policymakers who are devising new safety net systems and are struggling to understand complex design and operational issues," said Colin Andrews, a social protection specialist at the World Bank. "There is strong demand for this knowledge, especially as countries mobilize timely responses to economic shocks and food price volatility."