Formal and Informal Social Protection in Sub-saharan Africa

Background paper to the ERD 2010


Abena D. Oduro, Department of Economics, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana


Paper prepared for the Workshop “Promoting Resilience through Social Protection in Sub-Saharan Africa” organised by the European Report on Development in Dakar, 28-30 June 2010


This paper assesses developments in the provision of formal social protection in Africa. Formal social protection is defined to include actions taken by the public sector (alone or in conjunction with other parties such as non-governmental organisations and donors) and private sector arrangements that have legal backing. The focus of the discussion will be on the provision of formal social protection by the state. Social protection in many African countries is not new. The development of formal social protection in several of these countries can be delineated into three phases. The paper also considers what the effect of a scaling up of formal social protection will have on informal social protection arrangements. Informal social protection encompasses those arrangements and actions taken by an individual or by groups of individuals which are not guided by formal legal regulations, but which are not necessarily contravening these laws and regulations.

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