Social protection for people caught up in protracted crises

Notes from the conference ‘Social Protection in contexts of fragility and forced displacement’

African family in need of social protection

The number of people forced to leave their homes has reached an all-time high. Fresh and practical solutions to extend social protection to people caught up in the world’s current protracted crises were at the centre of an international conference in Brussels on 28/29 September, organized jointly by UNICEF, German Development Cooperation, EU Commission and other partners.

“We need to do better, and achieve more structural effects over the medium- and long term, without losing sight of the immediate needs of people and families that are suffering today” said Ingrid Hoven, Director General, Department for Global Issues, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ) at the opening session of this two-day exchange. The conference brought together experts, international and bilateral organisations and government representatives from more than forty countries. It was jointly organised by UNICEF, GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), EU DEVCO, ECHO, UkAid, FAO, Finland, Sida/Sweden, UNHCR, WFP and the World Bank.

The conference participants jointly explored opportunities for linking humanitarian assistance with more long-term development cooperation, so that the benefits of social protection systems could also be brought to bear in context of fragility and forced displacement. Andreas Proksch, Head of Sector and Global Programmes at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, called for increased joint efforts by the humanitarian and development community to find answers to meet the needs of millions of people who live in extremely fragile conditions.

Ingrid Hoven, Director General, Department for Global Issues, BMZ

The conference programme highlighted already existing examples of how this can be done in practice. KfW Development Bank presented how health cards can provide free access to health care to people living in fragile regions of Pakistan. Dr. Günther Taube, GIZ, explained how the EU-funded programme ‚Qudra’ (Arabic for strength) strengthens the resilience of both refugees and host communities in Syria’s neighbouring countries. Against the background of climate change-related fragility, representatives of the government of Malawi showcased their experience of developing a shock-responsive social protection system with the support of GIZ, DFID, EU, UNICEF, WFP and World Bank.

All delegates shared the conviction that the need for both humanitarian and development cooperation to jointly address people’s needs in such contexts was acute. More people than ever recorded – over 65 million – have been forced to leave their homes. 70% of the world’s population, particularly in fragile states and regions threatened by natural disasters, is not sufficiently protected against risks related to climate shocks, accidents, loss of employment, economic crises or ill-health.

In the final outcome document of the conference, the delegates make a case for the extension of social protection systems to such contexts – through closer cooperation of humanitarian agencies and development partners – in order to combat poverty and inequality in line with international commitments and in support of the principle of the Sustainable Development Goals to ‘Leave no one behind’.

All panel discussions are available via and more information can be found on the conference website.

Christina Dankmeyer
October 2017

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