Thursday, September 8, 2011

Public works plus unconditional transfer program in Ethiopia: A review of PSNP

Lieuw-Kie-Song reviews Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP)-- which includes employment through public works as well as transfer component-- and argues that the integration of the two commonly used social protection strategies creates synergies and much better outcome than implementation of the two programs independently.

For instance, it covers labor-constrained households by the safety net (transfer) program, which public works program that uses labor from each household cannot cover. But, it also employs non labor-constrained households in public works that focuses on natural resource rehabilitation and maintaining rural infrastructure, which transfer programs cannot do. Labor-constrained households (due to sickness, maternity, household size, disability, old-age, or death) can switch partially or fully to the direct unconditional transfer component of the program. This switch can be either permanent or temporary depending on the nature of the constraint faced by households.

The combination of these two components-- public works and direct transfers-- in the same program has resulted in a more “coherent framework of enhancing productivity and providing social protection”, argues Lieuw-Kie-Song . The author argues that PSNP is providing regular and predictable income and employment, fostering decent work environment; introducing a formal set of rights for participating households, including an appeals process to address grievances; allowing flexible working hours for women; and integrating a high degree of local and participative decision making.

PSNP targets chronically food insecure households in famine-prone areas in rural Ethiopia. It has around 8 million beneficiaries from around 1.5 million households. So far, the cost of the program is 1.2 percent of Ethiopia’s GDP. It provides transfers (15 kilos of cereal per household member per month for six months a year) to food insecure households. For households that are required to work, which is guaranteed, to get this transfer must work for five days to receive the transfer for one person.

The objective of the program is to provide households with enough income (cash/food) to meet their food gap and to build community assets to contribute to addressing the root causes of food insecurity. A review of the program by Anna McCord found that the program faces significant problems in identifying, designing, and implementing the scale of infrastructure projects required to absorb the levels of workers anticipated.