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WFP Top 10 Evaluation Lessons - Safety Nets

WFP Top 10 Evaluation Lessons - Safety Nets

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Published by Jeffrey Marzilli
WFP's priority evaluation lessons on the use of food assistance in support of social safety nets
WFP's priority evaluation lessons on the use of food assistance in support of social safety nets

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Published by: Jeffrey Marzilli on Apr 05, 2013
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WFP Evaluations concerningSafety Nets
Social protection and safety nets are important components of national systems to promote developmentand within which other assistance can and should be aligned. WFP’s strategic plan and the 2004 safety net policy seek to position WFP as an integrated part of social protection and safety net systems. TheTop 10 Lessons here are synthesized from 18 WFP evaluations since 2006 of WFP operations across theglobe that relate to safety nets and 9 thematic or strategic evaluations covering key cross-cutting programdevelopment elements. In addition, a number of external evaluations of food-based safety nets werereviewed to help identify lessons.
 WFP’s work in safety nets is not a new phenomenon, however focus on such work has been gainingattention within WFP in recent years in response to changing internal and external factors.There are a range of definitions for safety nets among different organizations and experts. In WFP,safety nets are defined as : “formal or informal non-contributory transfers provided to people vulnerableto or living in poverty, malnutrition and other forms of deprivation”. Safety net transfers should be non-contributory, i.e. requiring no payment by beneficiaries (e.g. such as premiums when purchasinginsurance), and be provided publicly. Safety nets transfers can include conditional transfers,unconditional transfers and public and community works. Safety nets are only a component of broadersocial protection systems that include insurance, and social services.The 2011 strategic evaluation of WFP’s Role in Social Protection and Safety Nets considered four primary quality criteria, or principles of good practice, which are: Adequate: sufficient to meet people’s needsTimely: both on time and at the right timePredictable: regular, so people know it is coming and can plan accordingly Sustainable: both financially and politically  As a subset of social protection systems, safety nets may have a variety of purposes. In the short term,
Evaluation Top 10 Lessons
 Safety Nets, 2011 
they may focus on protecting people and enabling them to survive periods of stress and shock. Longer-term objectives include mitigating shocks or reducing the risk of crises occurring. Increasingly safety nets are also being designed with the aim of strengthening livelihoods and reducing chronic poverty. WFP workshops in 2009 and 2011 brought together senior staff to discuss ways for WFP to be moreeffective when working with safety nets, and where efforts to integrate into national social protection andsafety net systems are appropriate.The Strategic Evaluation of WFP’s Role in Social Protection and Safety Nets commissioned by the WFPOffice of Evaluation (OE) contributed to internal consideration of these issues and has helped to increaseunderstanding of this area and its relevance for WFP. However, WFP staff have requested more detailedand practical-level lessons and information than was reported in the evaluation summary report.This Top 10 Lessons document seeks to provide some of this additional practical information and isorganized based on three categories – lessons regarding results, lessons regarding external factorsaffecting performance, and lessons regarding internal factors affecting performance.
Lesson 1:
WFP programmes often have the intended effects of alleviating hunger and saving lives,which serves protective safety net purposes. Different instruments require different considerations toeffectively meet good practice standards of being adequate, timely and predictable. Some instrumentstend to more frequently serve as safety nets, which promote livelihoods in addition to protecting lives.
Experiences from the field:
 WFP operationshave been found to have life-saving safety neteffects by allowing people to survive periods of stress or shock. The 2010 evaluation of theEthiopia Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) found that relief, Governmentof Ethiopia Productive Safety Net Programme(PSNP) and Targeted School Feeding (TSF)components of the programme delivered transfersto millions of people which saved lives, preventedacute hunger, reduced the risk of chronic hungerand addressed under nutrition.The 2010 evaluation of the Occupied PalestinianTerritory PRRO noted that WFP food assistancethrough general food distribution (GFD), food for work (FFW) and food for training (FFT) helped tomitigate the worst effects of the economic crisison food security.Experiences with different instruments shows the ways in which quality criteria (e.g. adequate,timely, predictable and sustainable) interact withprogram design and implementation decisions toincrease the safety net effects of WFPprogrammes.School feeding programmes have been shown toenable people to survive shocks and also tostrengthen livelihoods when implementedpredictably and without interruption. The 2007evaluation of WFP School Feeding in Emergency Situations, the 2010 evaluations of WFP SchoolFeeding in Gambia and Kenya, and the 2011evaluations of WFP School Feeding in Cambodiaand Cote d’Ivoire all found that school feeding hasasignificant value transfer effect whenprogrammes provide predictable and reliabledelivery of food, positively increasing householdincome and freeing up time for productiveactivities.The value of the transfer from school feedingappears to be highest for the most vulnerable
Evaluation Top 10 Lessons
 Safety Nets, 2011 
groups of beneficiaries. School feeding linked totake home rations (THR) appears to have thegreatest value transfer effects and also showsevidence of enabling beneficiaries to be moreresilient during lean periods. The 2011 evaluationof school feeding in Cambodia specifically notedthat THR is an adequate approach for targetingspecifically vulnerable people and has thepotential to function as a safety net mechanism.General Food Distribution (GFD), especially inemergency operations, is aimed primarily atprotecting lives of people but can also help free upincome and enable household investments inother non-food areas. When GFD is continued aspart of a recovery operation to fill a gap innational food safety nets (often in a PRRO orCountry Programme (CP) it is more likely to haveasustainable protective effect and may contributeto promoting livelihoods when the amount of assistance is sufficient.The 2009 strategic evaluation of the Effectivenessof WFP Livelihoods Recovery Interventions notedthat the greatest impact of WFP assistance issometimes achieved simply by continuing relief.This evaluation found that in certain contexts where people’s livelihoods are recovering, WFPGFD assistance is likely to have recovery impacts by helping people to meet basic needs, whichfrees up income and enables people to makeinvestments in their own recovery.FFW, FFT and food for assets (FFA) are generally designed to protect from shocks and strengthenlivelihoods, however their scale, duration, value of transfers, challenges in targeting and frequentinterruptions limit their impact as seen in the2009 strategic evaluation of the Effectiveness of  WFP Livelihoods Recovery Interventions, the2009 and 2010 evaluations of the Malawi andEgypt Country Programmes, the 2006 and 2010evaluations of the Central America, OPT andTimor-Lest PRROs. The 2009 strategicevaluation of the Effectiveness of WFPLivelihoods Recovery Interventions specifically expressed concerns that FFA activities seem tofrequently be of smaller scale with lower coverage, which can limit impact.FFA, FFW and FFT programmes provideopportunities for WFP to model safety nets, anddemonstrate their potential impact. The 2010evaluation of the Egypt CP noted that FFA programmes have led to increased governmentcommitment to pursue safety nets designed toreduce food insecurity in certain areas.FFW and FFA programmes can have positiveeffects on improving livelihoods by increasingincome, creating community assets and theenvironment. Positive examples of longer-termimprovements in household assets andlivelihoods were identified in the 2010 evaluationof the Rwanda Country Portfolio. The 2010evaluation of the Nepal Country Portfolio foundthat WFP has been effective in buildingcommunity assets through FFW, FFA and cash forassets (CFA) projects which reached largenumbers of people, reduced immediate foodshortages and protected assets and livelihoods inthe short-term. However this evaluation foundthe evidence less clear that these programmeshave created longer-term household assets orimproved long-term livelihoods conditions.Country programme and portfolio evaluations in2009 and 2010 in Rwanda, Nepal, Malawi andEgypt found mixed evidence of longer-termimprovements in household assets andlivelihoods conditions from FFW and FFA programmes.FFT can promote livelihoods outcomes as part of asafety net if skills being developed are linked todemand in the job market and other services which provide job placement. The 2010evaluation of the OPT PRRO noted that moreattention should be given to providing trainingrelated to marketable skills and to developingpartnerships that would support graduates of such training to be employed using the skills they had acquired.Maternal and Child Nutrition and Health(MCNH) programmes can provide a platform forserving as a safety net during crises while alsopromoting health outcomes which can improvelivelihoods. The 2006 thematic evaluation of 

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