Expanding social protection through knowledge and know-how

Expanding social protection through knowledge and know-how


Social protection is a human right, designed to protect individuals and their families. The Social Protection Systems Programme, has been supporting sustainable and inclusive social protection systems.

While social protection is not a new concept, it is becoming more and more recognised as a key driver of sustainable development. One obstacle to building effective social protection systems is the lack dedicated technical knowledge and know-how. 

Through the EU’s Social Protection Systems Initiative, the EU has been supporting countries build sustainable and inclusive social protection systems. The programme has produced a range of research that includes both country specific analytical work, covering 11 partner countries, thematic research and capacity building, to support the systematisation of social protection across countries.

Generating the evidence for change

The research produced at country level responds to the specific needs and contexts of the different countries and utilises the Social Protection System Review tool to inform countries’ efforts to extend and reform their social protection systems. You can find the Social Protection System Reviews of Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan and Indonesia here

The thematic research is aimed at generating cross-country knowledge on social protection with wide applicability to inform key social protection policies. 

The areas covered are:

  • Social protection systems’ contribution to inclusive growth;
  • Financing social protection;
  • Expanding social protection systems in economies with high informality; and,
  • Social protection and universal health coverage.

An example of this research is the report – Social Protection in East Africa, Harnessing the Future – which assesses how the demand for social protection is likely to change over the next 50 years in six countries in east Africa: Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. It identifies which policy directions will be best suited to address the complex and far-reaching challenges confronting the countries well into the future. In turn, these policy responses all have significant financial implications which should inform long-term social protection strategies. You can find the report here

A short-illustrated video has also been produced to present some of the insights of the report on Social Protection in East Africa – Harnessing the Future, watch the video here.
With regard to the project’s component on capacity strengthening, activities were conducted in partnership with local experts and according to the priorities of each partner country. They covered areas, such as

  • extending social protection coverage to informal workers
  • developing social protection curricula
  • training social protection professionals
  • assessing existing social protection capacities

Read here more about how the EU-SPS approach to capacity development.

Final thoughts from the EU-SPS partners


“It has been very important to bring African experts from several countries together, to exchange notes, experience positive peer pressure, work together and appreciate to advise each other. Such cross-country capacity building has never been done before and I am particularly proud of this community of African social protection experts with whom we have been able to work with in several countries. I really believe that those kinds of champions are going to make social protection sustainable."

Timo Voipio, EU SPS Co-Director, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)


“The information on informal workers and the recommendations of the study on the vulnerability in the informal economy and on what can come out the new informality database, called KIIBiH, to guide policies and to improve social protection for workers, has been be the biggest contribution of the EU SPS I would say for the SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth)."

Ji-Yeun Rim, EU SPS Co-Director, OECD Development Centre


"In Namibia, the EU-SPS support facilitated setting up Social Protection core teams where all the different ministries and for example the national statistics authority and development partners met regularly and planned jointly for a more integrated approach to social protection. What is now needed is a common unit at one of these ministries to set up a unified database. This is something, which I hope will happen in the coming years because the programmes themselves are fine, and are heading in the right direction.”

Alicia Spengler, Advisor at Sector Initiative Social Protection, GI


“There is a broad consensus about the kind of things that we should be looking at; and there have definitely been trends in the last 5 years. We are no longer in an advocacy phase, how things fit together on a high level, we got that, now we have to figure out how to actually make things work on the country level. This implies to bring more people from countries that have made it work together with other countries, South to South learning. Not only Tanzania and Zambia talking to each other but also Brazil and Mongolia for example.” 

Alexander Pick, Fiscal Economist, OECD