Social protection across the humanitarian-development nexus
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SPaN (2019) Case Study: Nepal

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This Case Study on Nepal summarizes the context and main features of the vertical and horizontal expansion (ex post) of social protection programmes in response to an onset natural disaster.

Following the earthquake in April 2015, many humanitarian actors in Nepal embarked on cash transfer programmes (CTPs) to meet the needs of the affected population. Humanitarian CTPs were an appropriate modality, given the challenges in delivering in-kind aid and since markets were generally well functioning.

Case Study Nepal(PDF)

Approximately 10% of the response in the first six months was provided through CTPs. This included emergency cash grants by the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs for cremation costs, death of a family member, fully and partially damaged houses, and winter relief. International agencies also implemented parallel systems to provide shelter and other basic needs. 

Nepal had a well-established social protection system financed by the government. The Child Grant was one such programme, initially targeting all under-five children in the remote Karnali region and to Dalit households in the rest of the country. Other social cash transfers targeted old-age, single women and widows, people with disabilities and ethnic minority groups. 

This case study is divided into four parts:

Scene setting

What it looks like

How it was done

What happened next

UNICEF provided technical and financial support to the Government of Nepal (GoN) to develop and implement an Emergency Cash Transfer Programme (ECTP), to support basic consumption needs of vulnerable households and act as a catalyst to strengthen and expand social protection in Nepal. The ECTP provided emergency cash transfers to vulnerable groups in earthquake-affected areas using the existing social assistance system in two phases.

In the first phase, cash transfers were provided to beneficiaries of existing social assistance programmes, including elderly, widows, Dalit children, people with disability and marginalised ethnic groups. During the second phase, transfers were provided to all children under the age of five. These transfers were accompanied with behavioural change messages linking them to wider relief and recovery efforts targeting specific groups.

Nepal photo

The ECTP set the foundation of a strengthened national social protection system that would be able to respond to future shocks.  Acting as one of the largest emergency response programmes in the country, it had an explicit longer-term objective.  The successful implementation of the programme using the existing social security system has been a key catalyst for the successive expansion and improvement of the Child Grant programme. 

The GoN has committed to expand the Child Grant programme to reach all children underfive in a phased manner and initiated the expansion in a few select districts. UNICEF is currently working with the government to support the preparedness and operational capacity of social security allowances, and the World Bank invests in a social registry to improve both social protection registration and future shock response. In regard to the European Union, the issue is embedded as a relevant indicator within the EU’s budget support actions and the nutrition Programme under the Sustainable Rural Development Sector.

The Nepal case study was produced as part of the “Guidance Package on Social Protection across the HumanitarianDevelopment Nexus” (SPaN). Visit the Guidance Package´s community page for a full list of SPaN´s studies. 

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Social Protection - Knowledge Management Specialist
Zena Mouawad
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29 March 2019

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