Social Protection

Extending social protection to rural populations - brief

Resource Type: Publication
Published: 08/04/2021

COVID-19 has shown that the importance of social protection for protecting lives and livelihoods is more critical than ever, as confirmed by the surge of government measures following the outbreak of the pandemic. Yet most of the measures that have been put in place are temporary, some of them have already been phased out and gaps in coverage remain. To address the crisis in a more effective and lasting way and increase resilience, permanent solutions are necessary to reinforce social protection systems, particularly with respect to ensuring universal access to adequate social protection for all, including rural populations – a large challenge even in “non-crisis”times. The case for – and urgency of – extending social protection to rural populations is evident. Currently about half of the world’s population – and more than three quarters of the world’s poor population – live in rural areas. Rural populations are three times more likely to live in extreme poverty (defined as living on less than USD 1.9 per day) than urban populations and are more likely to be in informal employment. Rural populations also face higher exposure to various risks, including working poverty, malnutrition and hunger, poor health, work-related injuries, natural disasters and climate change. At the same time, access to comprehensive social protection is still not a reality for more than 70 per cent of the world’s population, of whom a disproportionate number live in rural areas. This lack of social protection deprives rural populations of a fundamental human right that is also key to realizing other economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights to food, health and education. Extending social protection coverage to rural populations is essential to addressing poverty and vulnerability, promoting decent work and inclusive economic growth, and increasing resilience to shocks. This joint International Labour Organization (ILO) and Food And Agriculture Organization Of The United Nations (FAO) report sets out the main challenges that need to be addressed in order to effectively extend social protection to rural populations and illustrates how innovative solutions have been found in a variety of different contexts.