Social Protection Floor Index 2020

In the face of a global catastrophe, it's not very difficult to see the urgency for social safety nets. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic, people knew: social protection rights are human rights that should not be yielded to market forces. As early as 2012, the member states of the International Labour Organization (ILO) committed themselves to establishing, maintaining and implementing universal and rights-based basic social protection systems (Social Protection Floors). This is intended to ensure essential health care and basic income security worldwide for children, people of working age who are unable to earn a sufficient income and the elderly. The Social Protection Floor Index (SPFI), which in 2020 will be published as an interactive infographic for the first time, measures the extent to which the respective governments fulfil this promise.

The SPFI provides an indication of the minimum resources that a country would need to invest or reallocate to close existing income and/or health protection gaps, expressed as a share of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is conceptually based on the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) that calls on countries to ensure that all in need have access to essential health care and to basic income security over the life cycle. The Recommendation also states that Members should monitor progress in implementing national social protection floors. Against this background, in 2015 the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors developed the SPFI as an easily and widely accessible and understandable monitoring tool based on publicly available data that provides an indication of the current state and progress achieved for as many countries as possible.

The third edition of the SPFI compiles data for more than 160 countries over the time period from 2012 to 2015. The interactive tool allows users to compare country results for a given year (2012, 2013, or 2015) and for different definitions of what constitutes a minimum income level ($1.9 per day in 2011 PPP, $3.2 per day in 2011 PPP, or 50 per cent of median income (but not less than $1.9 per day in 2011 PPP), to monitor progress for a given country over time (keeping in mind some caveats outlined below), as well as to separately look at gaps in income security and access to essential health care. In this way, the SPFI can be a powerful advocacy tool for civil society organisations or social partners, and an entry point for more detailed studies at country level. This background note provides information on how the 2020 Index was calculated and which data were used. It is based on the discussion papers on the 2016 (Bierbaum, Oppel, Tromp, & Cichon, 2016) and 2017 (Bierbaum, Schildberg, & Cichon, 2017) editions where additional information and related literature can be found.

The Social Protection Floor Index is a composite index that takes into account gaps in access to basic income security and essential health care.

“Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social
security and is entitled to realization, through national effort
and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization
and resources of each State, of the economic,
social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity
and the free development of his personality.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Art.22

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A proposal for the decade of action on the Sustainable Development Goals 2020-2030

More than two thirds of the world’s population are still denied a life in dignity and social security: the GCSPF calls for action on social protection financing to deliver on the human right to social protection and the international commitment to guarantee social protection floors for all (SDG 1.3) at a time when the world is richer than ever before.

1. Proposal

The central idea of this proposal is to create a solidarity based Global Financing Mechanism for Social Protection to support countries design, implement and, in specific cases, finance national floors of social protection. Social Protection Floors (SPFs) are a direct and fast-acting mechanism to reduce poverty that can save millions of lives and alleviate misery in further millions of cases.

2. Background

In June 2012 the global community of nations decided that all countries should ensure that all people have access to at least a floor of social protection. The members of the International Labour Organisation have adopted the ILO Recommendation No. 202 on National Floors of Social Protection. According to R.202 national social protection floors “ensure that all in need have access to essential health care and basic income security which together secure effective access to goods and services defined as necessary at the national level”. The Recommendation also puts the floors of protection into the context of wider social security extension strategies that countries are required to adopt.

In Agenda 2030 the international community reconfirms their commitment to “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable” (SDG 1.3).1

However, the gap is still large. 71 per cent of the world’s population are not, or only partially, covered by social protection.2 What is necessary at this stage is a dedicated financing mechanism that enables the global community of nations to systematically, consistently and sustainably support national efforts to reduce poverty, insecurity and inequality through social protection. This gap could be filled by a Global Financing Mechanism for Social Protection.

3. Mandate

A Global Financing Mechanism for Social Protection Floors should be accessible for countries that need support to introduce or complete social protection floors or to sustain and expand protection in times of crises. While generally the financing of national social protection systems has to come from national budgets, there are countries where the support for the set-up of national social protection floors and co-financing of the international community is needed due to the high relative cost in relation to their current tax revenues3.

The Mandate of the Fund should include:

  1. Technical support to introduce or complete social protection floors and to develop their preparedness to sustain and expand in times of crises;
  2. Co-financing of social protection floor transfers, in cases where low-income countries would require a prohibitive high share of their total tax revenue to do so, while global tax co-operation and harmonization contribute to increase national fiscal space in the long run;
  3. Co-financing of social protection floor transfers in times of crises (e.g. natural disasters, reception of large numbers of refugees, economic crisis).

The Global Financing Mechanism does not resemble a vertical fund. Its mandate consists in building up and strengthening universal national social protection systems. A global financing mechanism able to back up national social protection floor guarantees in exceptional situations allows states to adopt rights-based social protection systems without having to fear that adopting such systems might prove fiscally unsustainable in the face of shocks.4

4. Governance

The governance structure of a Global Financing Mechanism for Social Protection Floors should be based on the principles of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation as defined in the Busan Partnership Agreement of 2011 and its predecessor documents.5 This means above all that the principle of country ownership must be strictly adhered to. The decision as to what kind and with which priorities social protection programs are to be implemented has to remain the responsibility of the governments of the recipient countries. Moreover, wherever possible, existing structures in the respective country should be used for the administrative implementation of these programmes. It is therefore not advisable to provide the new facility with its own implementation units. In fragile states where the government itself has no means of implementing social protection programs, the Global Financing Mechanism will coordinate with development and humanitarian aid organizations active in the country so that the financial resources can be used effectively for the benefit of the population and contribute to build up sustainable national institutions.

Another key principle of the aid effectiveness agenda which needs to be observed when designing the governance structure of the Global Financing Mechanism is the principle of accountability. In this regard, it is important to ensure that not only the partners involved in the establishment of the new facility are mutually accountable, but that this accountability also exists towards the people who are to be covered by the social protection floors. This leads to the following two consequences: On the one hand, it must be ensured that donor and recipient states are adequately represented in the highest decision-making body of the organization, the board, and that civil society organisations representing the affected population are also included in this body. On the other hand, the establishment of effective control and monitoring procedures is necessary. These include both internal and external audits, as well as evaluation and complaint mechanisms.

In addition to the Board, committees can be set up to deal with specific issues relating to the activities of the Global Financing Mechanism. The administration is carried out by a secretariat which could for example be hosted by the ILO.

5. Financing

A number of studies have shown that most countries can afford to finance a national social protection floor by their own means.  The most comprehensive information of the financial size of national social protection gaps - the absolute minimum of resources required to close gaps in the financing of social protection floors – comes from a recent update of the Social Protection Floor Index, a monitoring tool developed by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung on behalf of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (GCSPF)6. The study provides estimates of the financial size of protection gaps in form of an Index that indicates the total minimum necessary additional expenditure for social protection transfers in cash and in kind. These figures provide an indication of the dimension of the financial challenge that countries may face when seeking to close the gaps in their social protection floors. Importantly, the results indicate that some level of effective social protection is affordable everywhere. The Index shows that 107 countries studied could close the gap to a minimum income level of 1.9$ per day (2011PPP) by devoting less than 2 percent of their GDP to social protection. 133 countries could do so with less than 5 percent of GDP.

Presently only about 10 countries have gaps larger than 10 per cent of their GDP, and are deemed to require international assistance to finance minimum social protection. A global fund to foot about 50 percent of these countries’ social protection bills would need $10 billion to $15 billion annually. That is equivalent to about 0.9 percent of the about $1.7 trillion in annual global military spending, as calculated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute - a solidarity investment that would yield a much higher peace dividend than the military spending.

The required resources could come from a combination of different sources. Some options are:

  1. Earmarked global, international or national sources, e.g. national, regional or global financial transaction taxes (FTT), arms trade tax, carbon taxes, air ticket solidarity levies, levies on profits of international companies etc.
  2. Development aid and funds for emergency response.

As national social protection budgets need to be fiscally sustainable to provide all residents with adequate social protection in all challenging situations over the life cycle, an international financing mechanism has to count on reliable funds and provide for crises situations.

6. Potential impact

The co-financing of the Global Financing Mechanism for Social Protection, if only channelled to the 10 countries that would need more than 10 per cent of their GDP to guarantee basic social protection to all,7 would help to pull about 132 million people out of abject poverty and social insecurity. Technical assistance in further countries which would lead to the set-up or completion of nationally financed social protection floors within a medium term timeframe will reduce poverty by many more millions of people. Social Protection boosts opportunities for inclusive economic development and social cohesion.

Furthermore, the Global Financing Mechanism for Social Protection would also have an important task in crisis situations. Even countries that already have functioning and adequately funded systems in place may be forced by external shocks to temporarily reduce or even completely suspend benefits. The need to extend programmes to additional groups or to increase benefits may arise. Such crises can, for example, be triggered by natural disasters or epidemics. A temporary weakening of social protection systems can also be caused by international economic crises. During humanitarian disasters some countries accept large numbers of refugees within a short period of time. This can be a further reason why a country's social protection system is not able to cope with the additional needs. In such situations, which would mean the loss of basic protection for many millions of people, the Global Financing Mechanism could stabilise social protection programmes in partner countries and cover the increase in the social protection gap caused by external shocks.

Effective Social Protection Floors provide access to essential health care and livelihood security in individual and collective crisis situations. Social protection thus protects the human rights of each individual, but at the same time has important impacts on society, in good times, but even more strikingly in times of crisis. In the case of Covid-19 for example access to health for all is essential to contain the pandemic within the country and globally. Only the access to social protection enables low-income groups (including those belonging to the informal sector) to stay away from work and thus contribute to reduce number of infections. It is also the only viable way to protect more vulnerable families with children, persons with disabilities and older people in such times of crisis. Counter-cyclical social protection measures reduce the depth and duration of economic recession. A world with social protection and access to health for all could face future crises in a different way.

It is time to act: found and fund a Global Financing Mechanism for Social Protection

The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 virus illustrates more drastically than ever before that there is an urgent need to set up an international financing mechanism that will enable the poorest countries to implement at least social protection floors (access to essential health care for all and income security for children, persons in active age and older people) and to maintain these services even in times of severe crisis.

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1 The African Union also explicitly supports the SPF-concept in its Agenda 2063, Framework Document, The Africa We Want, 2015, p. 34,

2 International Labour Office (2017), World Social Protection Report 2017-19.

3 Neither on the national nor on the international level social protection can be financed without generating and safeguarding sufficient tax revenue. States offer competing tax incentives to foreign investors and contribute to a fiscal ‘race to the bottom.’ This often erodes national tax bases in those countries where resources to cover social protection floors are already scarce. To effectively protect and enhance national fiscal space, regulation and enforcement on international level is inevitable.

4 See for more details De Schutter, O. & Sepúlveda, M. (2012), Underwriting the Poor. A Global Fund for Social Protection, Briefing note,

6 See Bierbaum, M. et al. (2020). Social Protection Floor Index – Update and Country Studies, FES Berlin.

7 According to Bierbaum, M. et al. (2020). Social Protection Floor Index – Update, FES Berlin these are: Benin, Togo, Niger, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Congo (Dom.Rep.), Burundi, Central African Republic.

e-GCSPF # 35 - April 2020 - COVID-19

Coronavirus is a devastating blow to children in poverty


Whilst the coronavirus has so far resulted in less severe cases among children, it can decimate their lives in a different way. The ‘physical distancing’ measures increasingly required to contain the virus mean parents are unable to work, as ‘business as usual’ is rapidly grinding to a halt across the world. Meanwhile traditional care providers – schools and nurseries – have had to close. Millions of children living in vulnerable communities in countries all around the world will suffer from the far reaching economic and social impacts of the measures needed to contain the pandemic. To avoid lasting damage to their future, we must act now – rapidly scaling up support for children whose families income is insecure and provide the social protection they urgently need. Read more


A Joint Statement on the Role of Social Protection in Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic


We, representatives of UN system agencies, other multilateral and bilateral development agencies, donor governments, and civil society observers that make up the Social Protection Inter-Agency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B), committed to the realization of SDGs 1.3 and 3.8, call for urgent social protection measures to respond to the rapidly evolving COVID19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a global health emergency with significant immediate as well as longer-term social and economic implications. It exposes some of the problems caused by inadequate social protection coverage, that prevent people from: Read more


Don't say nobody warned us


The message could not have been clearer: “There is a very real threat of a rapidly moving, highly lethal pandemic of a respiratory pathogen killing 50 to 80 million people and wiping out nearly 5% of the world’s economy. A global pandemic on that scale would be catastrophic, creating widespread havoc, instability and insecurity.”
This prediction was published in September 2019, several months before the identification of the first Covid-19 patient, by Gro Harlem Bruntland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), and by Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, as co-chairs of the the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board. The Board’s report entitled A World at Risk was conclusive: “The world is not prepared.” Read more


Beyond health workers, millions more need better conditions to beat Covid-19


As the world is swept by the COVID19 global health crisis, millions of public service workers - mostly local and regional government employees– are on the front line of the emergency, putting their lives at risk to ensure our safety.
PSI urges national, local and regional government authorities to listen to public service workers and their unions as they express their legitimate needs to guarantee continued, effective, and safe services for all at a time of unprecedented crisis.
PSI calls on them to refer to the comprehensive PSI Concept note on the COVID 19 response. Read more


COVID-19: Social protection systems failing vulnerable groups


If the COVID-19 pandemic has sent the world one message, it is that we are only as safe as the most vulnerable among us. Those who are unable to quarantine themselves or to get treatment endanger their own lives and the lives of others, and if one country cannot contain the virus, others are bound to be infected, or even re-infected. And yet, around the world, social-protection systems are failing miserably at safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable groups.
Nearly 40% of the world’s population has no health insurance or access to national health services. Governments must use the momentum created by the COVID-19 pandemic to make rapid progress toward collectively financed, comprehensive, and permanent social-protection systems. Read more



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Download the Statement in English (pdf format). The Statement is also available in Arabic, Spanish, French and Russian.

We, representatives of UN system agencies, other multilateral and bilateral development agencies, donor governments, and civil society observers that make up the Social Protection Inter-Agency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B), committed to the realization of SDGs 1.3 and 3.8, call for urgent social protection1 measures to respond to the rapidly evolving COVID- 19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a global health emergency with significant immediate as well as longer-term social and economic implications. It exposes some of the problems caused by inadequate social protection coverage, that prevent people from:

a) accessing adequate healthcare and adopting preventive behaviours;
b) taking time off work when ill (including health workers);
c) caring for children or other relatives when continuing to work in cases where schools have closed and alternative care arrangements (such as by extended family) are no longer possible; and
d) maintaining adequate living standards, including food security when unemployed or when forced to reduce economic activity.

We critically need to increase our efforts to protect and support all people throughout the crisis, both in its health dimension as well as its economic and social repercussions. For this, we can draw on the range of social protection policies and tools at our disposal and on lessons learnt from earlier pandemics and economic and financial crises.

We call for urgent action to:

1. Ensure access to health services and support people in adopting necessary prevention measures
2. Ensure income security and access to essential goods and services and protect human capabilities and livelihoods
3. Prioritize the most vulnerable
4. Mobilize substantial domestic and international financing to protect and enhance fiscal space for health and social protection in all countries
5. Ensure continued/scaled up and coordinated delivery capacities of social protection and humanitarian crisis response programmes
6. Design crisis response measures also with a view to strengthening social protection systems in the medium- and long term

1. Ensure access to health services and support people in adopting necessary prevention measures

Access to good-quality health services is paramount in responding to this pandemic. Social protection plays a key role in enabling access to affordable health care and avoiding hardship. In addition, social protection can also support people in adopting the kinds of behaviour (hand washing, physical distancing, social isolation/quarantine) necessary to control the spread of the virus. This will also contribute to alleviating pressure on national health systems.

Depending on context, immediate responses may include:

  1. Making sure that all people, including the most vulnerable, can obtain necessary health services. Measures can include free access to services, free access to health insurance schemes for all participants of existing cash transfer programmes, waiving eligibility requirements (including citizenship documentation), or creating exemptions from co-payments or fees for specific services (e.g. for COVID-19 testing and treatment), introducing or expanding mobile services to serve hard-to-reach populations;
  2. Ensuring access to clean water, soap and needed medical supplies, as well as contraceptives, including during physical isolation;
  3. Ensuring medical and care staff are adequately protected and equipped, including with masks, gloves or disinfectants;
  4. Facilitating physical distancing policies by ensuring basic goods and services remain accessible for all, in particular for high risk groups and people in self-isolation;
  5. Adapting delivery mechanisms of social protection programmes in line with physical distancing requirements such as waiving requirements for in-person visits to social protection offices, introducing or scaling up electronic payments or applications for benefits, bi- monthly instead of monthly delivery, waiving conditionalities (such as attending schools or health clinics);
  6. Ensuring adequate paid sick leave, sickness benefits or other income support in cases of sickness, quarantine and self-isolation2, 3.

2. Ensure income security and access to essential goods and services and protect human capabilities and livelihoods

Beyond protecting people from the short to medium term health impacts of the pandemic, it is vital to adequately protect individuals, households and businesses from the adverse social and economic repercussions of the crisis. This will protect human capabilities and livelihoods as well as provide counter- cyclical economic stimulus to support economic recovery. Actions to consider in addition to actions outlined above include:

  1. Providing cash transfers to meet basic needs. This can include establishing or scaling up cash transfer programmes, family leave policies, paid sick leave, unemployment benefits, partial unemployment- /short-time work benefits; pensions or child grants ensuring that all vulnerable households are adequately protected regardless of their employment status; and considering delivery of humanitarian cash transfers through social protection systems or, where this is not possible, expansion of social transfer coverage through humanitarian cash transfers;
  2. Ensuring access to basic supplies, services and food security through in-kind support in addition to cash transfers. This can include adapting distribution mechanisms of school meals where schools are closed; delivery of food and basic supplies to individuals, in particular to older persons, persons in self-isolation or where markets have collapsed; responding to childcare, eldercare, maternity and sexual and reproductive health needs;
  3. Where possible, extending or introducing gender-responsive family friendly workplace policies to flexibly respond to caring responsibilities, including in employment guarantee schemes/public works programmes.

3. Prioritize the most vulnerable

The Leave No One Behind agenda is a central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs and should also guide response measures to COVID-19. With regards to the health dimension of the COVID-19 crisis, older people, those with compromised immune systems, underlying health conditions (including respiratory diseases, diabetes, lung disease and heart disease), face a higher risk of severe infection.

In addition to those who are medically vulnerable as outlined above, other groups are especially vulnerable to the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.

These include older people, people already living with other underlying health conditions (including HIV), girls and women, persons with disabilities (physical and mental), workers who are self-employed or in non-formal employment (including rural and domestic workers), the homeless, those living in fragile contexts and protracted crises, forcibly displaced people, refugees, migrants (particularly those without documentation), care workers (paid and un-paid), ethnic/indigenous groups, chronically poor persons, children, young people, sex workers or prisoners.

Across contexts, women are disproportionately responsible for unpaid and informal care-work, and social protection responses must be sensitive to the gendered burden of care arising from the COVID19 epidemic.

Reaching these groups through response measures requires effectively cooperating with local civil society and workers and employers organizations. Moreover, gender-based violence typically heightens in emergency contexts and during times of high stress. This is of particular concern in the context of widespread self-isolation, reduced access to income and curtailed access to support services.

Depending on context, in addition to measures outlined above, immediate responses may include:

  1. Conducting comprehensive national and sub- national vulnerability and needs assessments to better understand the specific needs, risks and barriers that different groups face;
  2. Adapting and continuing entitlements and services delivery, introducing measures to address the specific needs of different vulnerable groups during the crisis, including adequate social service responses, case management and referrals to ensure that vulnerable and at-risk groups are not neglected or harmed;
  3. Taking measures to avoid adverse coping strategies and protecting productive assets. This may include early cash transfers or distribution of agricultural inputs to avoid families having to eat seeds or sell livestock; facilitating access to credit or distribution of productive inputs to ensure the continuity of small- and medium- sized enterprises; ensuring flexible responses to changing childcare and eldercare needs; maintaining investment in children’s education and development.

4. Mobilize substantial domestic and international financing to protect and enhance for health and social protection in all countries

Supporting a strong and rapid social protection response will require urgent allocation of sufficient resources. Governments and the international community are already increasing fiscal allocations in response to the growing awareness of the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Crucially, this must be done without placing excessive strains on national budgets or crowding out spending on other vital services. While some countries have the ability to create this fiscal space, others with debt and public health system distress and related challenges will need support from the international community. Actions to consider include:

  1. Prioritizing social protection in the application of counter-cyclical fiscal tools to support household incomes and help enterprises in retaining workers, thereby stabilizing aggregate demand and mitigating the effects of the economic downturn;
  2. Reorienting and increasing global financial support for countries to expand social protection systems;
  3. Exploring new global solidarity financing mechanisms to support countries with insufficient fiscal space;
  4. Ensuring international financial flows to low income countries are sustained even during the COVID-19 crisis.

5. Ensure continued/scaled up and coordinated delivery capacities of social protection and humanitarian crisis response programmes

The pandemic may disrupt the delivery of existing social protection programmes and services, for example due to staff illness, limited mobility for service providers and participants or other physical distancing measures. Countries need to quickly introduce coordinated measures that will allow social protection systems to continue to operate effectively during the pandemic. In settings where many steps along the implementation chain are carried out manually, COVID-19 mobility restrictions can severely impede benefit delivery. The following measures are thus recommended:

  1. Where possible, ensuring that contingency plans and adaptation measures are put in place (see examples under sections 1 and 2), including continuity of financial services or scaling up infrastructure capacities (e.g. information and communication technologies, and health infrastructure);
  2. In sub-national, national and global response efforts, ensuring that the responses of the public sector, social protection providers, civil society and humanitarian actors are coordinated, information and assessments of needs and responses are shared freely, and existing social protection delivery mechanisms for channelling humanitarian aid are used where advantageous.

6. Design crisis response measures also with a view to strengthening social protection systems in the medium- and long-term

Countries that already have well-functioning social protection systems in place are in a much better position to respond to crises. Action taken in response to the COVID-19 crises should therefore not only aim to meet immediate short-term needs but build structures that contribute to early recovery and the extension of social protection systems also in the medium to longer-term; in line with SDG goal 1.3 of implementing nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and substantially increasing coverage of the poor and vulnerable. Actions to consider include:

  1. To the extent possible, building on and improving existing national administrative and delivery structures of social protection systems to implement crisis response measures (see examples under sections 1 and 2), rather than creating parallel ones;
  2. Working across the social protection – humanitarian nexus and strengthening local capacities when implementing relief operations;
  3. Developing short-term emergency measures with a view to extending social protection coverage and protecting people from longer-term impacts of the pandemic as well as future shocks;
  4. In the aftermath of the crisis, taking measures to build social protection entitlements anchored in national law that cover life cycle risks, including those related to health costs, sick leave and unemployment.

The SPIAC-B will support global and national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring and aggregating emerging evidence and practices from SPIAC-B members and their constituents. We will facilitate rapid learning from this response so that countries can apply those lessons and develop effective context-specific responses in the short and long-term. For example, SPIAC-B agencies have produced and will periodically update this COVID-19 online community. Learning is further facilitated by the range of social, political and international partners providing information on the latest challenges, crafting effective responses and supporting implementation. A list of materials already published is included in the Annex.

Annex to SPIAC-B Joint Statement on the Role of Social Protection in Responding to the COVID19 Pandemic

Key resources and links – by agency in alphabetical order:

  1. ADB Insititutional website on COVID-19 response
  2. FAO Institutional website on COVID-19
  3. DFID Shock Response Social Protection Toolkit
  4. DFID Shock Response Social Protection Research
  5. EU Social Protection Across the Humanitarian Development Nexus
  6. HelpAge International Guidance and advice for older people, care homes and for protecting older people during the COVID-19 pandemic
  7. IFRC, UNICEF and WHO Guidance to protect children and support safe school operations during COVID-19
  8. ILO Institutional website on COVID-19 and the world of work: impacts and responses
  9. ILO Website on Social Protection Response to COVID
  10. IPC-IG/GIZ/DFAT/ COVID-19 Online Community including collection of materials, webinars, discussion space
  11. ISSA Website on Coronavirus – Social Security Responses
  12. ITUC Institutional COVID-19 response page
  13. OECD Tackling the Corona Virus (COVID-19) - information page including a series of briefs
  14. OECD ELS Policy Brief: Supporting people and companies to deal with the Covid-19 virus, Options for an immediate employment and social-policy response
  15. OECD ELS Policy Brief: Beyond Containment: Health systems responses to COVID-19 in the OECD
  16. OHCHR COVID-19: Who is protecting the people with disabilities?
  17. The Council of Global Unions Statement on economic and workplace measures in response to COVID-19
  18. UNAIDS Rights in the time of COVID-19: lessons from HIV for an effective, community-led response.
  19. UNESCO COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response Monitor
  20. UNESCO Distance Learning Solutions – overview of freely accessible learning applications and platforms
  21. UNESCO Global COVID-19 Education Coalition
  22. UNICEF Shock-Responsive Social Protection guidance
  23. UNICEF, ILO Family-friendly policies and other good workplace practices in the context of COVID-19: Key steps employers can take
  24. WHO Website on COVID-19
  25. World Bank Coronavirus Response Information Webpage
  26. World Bank Global Review of Social Protection Responses to COVID-19

Social Protection Interagency Cooperation Board. SPIAC-B is composed of 25 intergovernmental agencies and 10 government bodies. 11 civil society organizations act as observers. For more information see: un/social-protection-inter-agency-cooperation-board/lang-- en/index.htm


1 Social Protection is defined as the set of policies and programs aimed at preventing or protecting all people against poverty, vulnerability, social exclusion throughout their lifecycles, placing a particular emphasis on vulnerable groups. Social protection can be provided in cash or in-kind; through non-contributory schemes, such as providing universal, categorical, or poverty- targeted benefits such as social assistance; contributory schemes (commonly social insurance), and by building human capital, productive assets, and access to jobs.

2 In line with Recommendation (No. 134) on Medical Care and Sickness Benefits, which states that sickness benefits should also include persons “isolated for the purpose of quarantine.”

3 Convention 102 on minimum standards for social security details universal benchmarks and procedures for scaling-up family, old-age, sickness, employment and other programmes.

e-GCSPF # 34 - April 2020 - COVID-19

Putting people first – 12 governments show the world how to protect lives, jobs and incomes


New ITUC analysis of government responses from 69 countries to the COVID-19 pandemic has identified 12 governments which are putting people first as they tackle the economic fallout from lockdown measures to stem the spread of the virus.
Argentina, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and the UK are the first 12 governments that have put in place policies to protect lives, jobs and incomes.
These 12 countries set a standard on what governments could provide for workers that need to be emulated by many more governments around the world. There are still significant gaps in some of the countries, and the unions are pressing for these gaps to be filled,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary. Read more


What’s the action out there? Findings from updated paper on country responses


A total of 84 countries have introduced or adapted social protection and jobs programs in response to COVID-19. This is an 87% increase since last week (when countries were just 45), with a total of 283 programs currently in place – a fitting testament to the dynamism of pandemic-related responses in the sector!
Among classes of interventions, social assistance (non-contributory transfers) is the most widely used (including a total of 150 programs), followed by actions in social insurance (91) and supply-side labor market interventions (42). Within social assistance, cash transfer programs are clearly the most widely used intervention by governments (over one-third of total programs, and 65% of social assistance schemes). A total of 58 countries have those programs in place, with 35 of them representing new initiatives introduced specifically as COVID-19 response. Read more


The global corona crisis - A summary of key policy mappings and databases


In addition to the health aspects of the virus, the global coronavirus crisis also has financial, socio-economic and developmental consequences. For this reason, a large number of policy measures have been announced by governments and international organizations, on the one hand to contain the pandemic, on the other to mitigate the economic consequences.
These measures contain for example fiscal stimulus and aid packages of various shapes and sizes, intended to cushion the serious economic and social consequences of the coronavirus outbreak worldwide. The main target groups of planned loans and cash injections are the healthcare system, as well as larger banks and companies. However, some strategies are also aimed at small and medium-sized companies as well as groups of individuals, their savings, private pensions and other private assets. Read more


Almost 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide as a result of COVID-19


An initial assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the global world of work says the effects will be far-reaching, pushing millions of people into unemployment, underemployment and working poverty, and proposes measures for a decisive, co-ordinated and immediate response.
The economic and labour crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic could increase global unemployment by almost 25 million, according to a new assessment by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Read more


Guidelines on administering pension payments and key messages for older people during COVID-19


While the COVID-19 virus can be dangerous for everyone, initial evidence shows that older people, and those with underlying health conditions, are at a heightened risk of getting seriously ill or dying from the virus.
HelpAge International has worked with health and ageing experts from the University of East Anglia and South Africa’s Samson Institute for Ageing Research (SIFAR) to develop two resources to be shared with governments, network members, partners and anyone working with older people, pensions or social protection in general:
1. Guidelines on administering pension payments in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Key messages for older people on the collection of pensions payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.



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A Joint Statement on the Role of Social Protection in Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic, SPIAC-B, on April 2020.

Civil Society Call for a Global Fund for Social Protection

Over 200 civil society organizations and trade unions unite to call for a Global Fund for Social Protection to protect the most vulnerable during COVID-19 and beyond.

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SP&PFM Programme

The programme Improving Synergies Between Social Protection and Public Finance Management provides medium-term support to multiple countries aiming to strengthen their social protection systems at a national level and ensure sustainable financing. The programme aims to support countries in their efforts towards achieving universal social protection coverage.

This initiative is implemented jointly by the ILO, Unicef, and the GCSPF.

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