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149. ADB’s Strategy endorsed a very broad range of different types (33) of
social protection interventions. While this opened up many possibilities that DMCs in
Asia and the Pacific might want to explore regarding social protection, the broad scope
of the Strategy made it difficult to easily describe and market social protection within
ADB and with DMC governments.
150. The Strategy’s implementation plan did not provide guidance for
prioritizing development of the social protection portfolio. The proposed
implementation plan and process followed during the first 3 years was diagnostic-
heavy (including vulnerability assessments, labor market assessments, and public social
expenditure reviews), and failed to build on existing experience (e.g., lessons from the
Asian Financial Crisis) or existing support for social protection.
151. ADB corporate commitment to social protection declined over the decade.
From a corporate strategy perspective, implementation of the Strategy effectively
ended in 2006 with the adoption of the MTS II. The MTS II narrowed ADB’s strategic
and operational focus to a more limited set of sectors, effectively deemphasizing social
protection. Consequently, social protection specialist positions were eliminated. By
2006, of the six social protection specialists hired in 2003, three had moved to other
positions in ADB and three had left ADB altogether.
Continuous engagement in policy dialogue also creates demand for social protection, a point emphasized
by the World Bank 2012–2022 Social Protection and Labor Strategy.
years, results can
A balance needs
to be struck
on a few
Findings and Conclusions 55
152. The number of ADB staff with social protection-related skills is currently
low both in headquarters and in resident missions. A limited number of
international staff have social protection-related expertise. There is low awareness
among ADB staff of the content and/or even the existence of ADB’s Strategy, and of
social protection in general. Thus, opportunities to share lessons learned across country
teams are limited.
153. In part due to these strategic and institutional factors, ADB’s portfolio of
social protection activities over 2002–2011 was small and spread thinly across a
wide range of interventions. Social protection stand-alone activities (loans, grants,
and TA) accounted for 2.5% of the total value of the ADB portfolio (loans, grants, and
TA) in 2002–2011. If crisis periods are excluded, the stand-alone social protection
investment portfolio shows little growth over the last 15 years, whether in terms of
either volume of activity or value. The portfolio was scattered thinly across a wide
range of small interventions. This highly dispersed nature of the interventions suggests
a lack of ex-ante coordination of development of the portfolio and a dilution of the
overall effectiveness of ADB social protection support.
154. The top five interventions (stand-alone plus component) by frequency of
activities were TVET, cash and nonfood transfers, employment-related support,
pensions, and policy research. The largest stand-alone social protection interventions
by value included support for CCTs in Indonesia and Philippines, response to natural
disasters in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and response to conflict in Georgia. The largest
loans that included social protection components by value were policy-based loans
from the CSF.
155. The Strategy proposed that ADB’s role should shift from one of providing
social protection support in response to crises to one of assisting DMCs build
more effective national social protection policies and systems in noncrisis years.
Despite the fact that the governments of all of the four case study countries included
social protection development and reform in their development plans, ADB’s CSP
documents provided little or no information on social protection issues nor proposed
social protection activities in their pipelines.
Further, most of ADB’s support for social
protection (whether in terms of number of interventions or in terms of value) occurred
during the crisis years from 2007 to 2010. Subsequently, ADB’s new social protection
approvals have declined to their low precrisis levels.
156. During periods of economic shock, ADB utilizes regional and country
economists to develop policy-based and other lending that includes social
protection components. However, ADB has not capitalized on its crisis response
initiatives to build longer term engagement in areas of social protection that logically
link with country partnership programs.
157. Sustained social protection policy dialogue and focused lending and
nonlending support in noncrisis years is critical for the establishment of effective
and efficient national social protection policies and systems. Sustained policy
dialogue is needed to raise awareness of the importance of social protection and
prioritize government initiatives towards achieving inclusive growth.
158. ADB’s social protection interventions generally lacked sufficient attention
to monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and only one (Philippines CCT)
supported a rigorous impact evaluation. Project evaluations of social protection
support showed good performance in such areas as pensions TA and social protection
56 Asian Development Bank: Social Protection Strategy 2001
knowledge work, and generally mixed performance in other areas. Lack of impact
evaluations makes it difficult to demonstrate the development effectiveness of social
protection support to either the ADB Board or Management or to potential clients in
Asian and Pacific DMCs.
159. ADB is not generally regarded by DMCs and other development agencies
as a serious partner for support related to social protection. Funding agency (and
sometimes government) representatives in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Kyrgyz Republic
reported that they were not aware that ADB was active in social protection, despite
ADB’s large policy-based lending support during economic crises (Bangladesh and
Indonesia) or reconstruction lending post-ethnic conflict (Kyrgyz Republic). This lack of
awareness is due in part to the fact that ADB staff in these countries do not generally
participate in government and/or partner-led coordination networks for social
protection, where there are opportunities to share and learn from in-country social
protection experience. Only in the Mongolia case study—where ADB has both more
than a decade-long track record of providing social protection support as well as
having posted a full-time staff member responsible for social protection—do
representatives of both government and aid organizations have a high level of
awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of ADB’s social protection-related support.
The case demonstrates that ADB can play an important role if it dedicates staff time
and expertise to social protection in countries and takes the time to foster long-term
160. A growing body of evidence shows that social protection, particularly
safety nets targeted at the poor, reduces poverty; improves nutrition, health, and
education; promotes greater equity; and is affordable. Some countries in the region
have started to develop, expand, or reform social protection policies and programs
within their development plans to support inclusive growth and/or as part of efforts to
scale back unsustainable and regressive broad-based subsidies. The demand for ADB
support can be expected to grow if ADB is able to provide the right expertise and policy
dialogue at the right time.
161. Rapid social transformation will be a key driver of demand for social
protection over the coming decade along with growing inequality, economic
crises, and natural disasters. People in parts of Asia are aging rapidly, but few have
access to pensions. Inequality is increasing; and economic fluctuations and natural
disasters will recur, all providing an entry point for sustained engagement on inclusive
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