The ERD 2010 deals with the issues of poverty, inequality and social protection, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Many African countries are stuck in a situation of chronic poverty and are increasingly vulnerable to external shocks, such as climate change, food and fuel price volatility, or the recent financial crisis. These shocks are undermining progress towards the MDGs, and increasing demand for new and more substantive social protection programs in many African countries. Social protection – which is increasingly recognized as an effective tool to protect people from risks and reduce vulnerability – is thus rapidly becoming a priority in the development agenda, both for donors and local governments.
The ERD 2010 focuses on the role of formal and informal mechanisms of social protection as a means to enhance the resilience of Sub Saharan countries when faced with shocks (short term) and structural vulnerabilities such as poverty traps (long term). Specific interventions targeting the most vulnerable sectors of the population are increasingly considered necessary complements of more traditional pro-growth policies – especially when dealing with emerging unstable global socio-economic scenarios.
Social protection is usually defined as the set of public and private mechanisms which prevent individuals and households from suffering the worst consequences of some negative shocks and/or chronic need. It is often considered a double-dividend policy for development: it is an effective input for economic growth and directly reduces poverty, thus making growth more pro-poor.