COVER. Actions to expand the coverage of SP systems in rural and urban areas should be informed by food insecurity and malnutrition in tandem with poverty indicators to prioritize populations least able to adequately and consistently meet their basic nutritious food needs. The ability of social protection systems to identify and reach food-insecure and nutritionally vulnerable people is critical, as is integrate key players along the food value chain, given their high levels of employment informality. Social protection programs that promote the progressive realization of universal access to nutritious foods can help overcome the mismatch between supply and demand for nutritious foods that hampers the performance of food systems. Considering that 55% of the world’s population does not have adequate access to SP, extending coverage to critical groups, including children and women, the chronically ill, the elderly, displaced/undocumented people and informal sector workers, while taking into account the differentiated nature of food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty to inform effective program design and implementation, is of utmost importance.
ADEQUACY. Assess and consider the gap – i.e. the level of unaffordability of healthy and nutritious food – and design the benefit(s) to close the food and nutrition gap as much as possible determining the type(s) of benefits, size, beneficiaries, delivery modalities, frequency and timing (eg, seasonality) so that the program best meets nutritional needs. Food and nutrition needs vary across the life cycle, are compounded by often overlapping inequalities, and need to be taken into account in the design and delivery of social protection. Benefits can be calculated using poverty lines that may not fully reflect the (often higher and changing) costs of healthy eating, leaving an “affordability gap” between what people can buy and what a healthy diet costs, which is often too much to meet. with an SP cash transfer alone.
COMPLETENESS. Identifying the most appropriate and context-specific linkages or ‘pluses’ to improve FNS outcomes in tandem with other sectors is key to maximizing the impact of SP on nutrition, through the provision of quality essential services and effective access to them, promoting intersectoral linkages across health, nutrition, agriculture and education, among others. To ensure that increased demand for nutritious food positively influences its supply, linkages with agriculture, food processing and markets need to be established (e.g. through providing vouchers for fresh or fortified foods or encouraging the use of preventive health and nutrition services). The different MS support programs and arrangements need to be properly bundled and reliably accessible to people when, where and as needed.
QUALITY. Integrate a variety of actors across the food system in the development and delivery of SP ensure that benefits and services meet people’s needs and do no harm (i.e. they do not create unintended consequences that impede the reduction of poverty, hunger and malnutrition ). To achieve these results, Social protection systems require open consultation processes where the representation, voice and active participation of affected populations are ensured and carefully designed complaints, feedback and accountability mechanisms consistent with human rights standards and principles.
REACTIVITY. Contexts and people’s needs, risks and vulnerabilities are constantly changing, and SP systems must adapt and respond effectively. They must be flexible and robust to respond to change while continuously protecting people when needed.. Systems should include a regular monitoring and evaluation mechanism that monitors FSN indicators and reviews and uses the results of impact evaluations for SP adaptation (ISPA-FSN, 2020). Specifically, stronger links should be made between food security early warning systems and social protection responses.