Social Protection Briefing Notes

Informal worker Iris Lamiorkor runs a snack stand at Kwame Nkrumah Circle Market. Unlike other vendors who sell during the day

WIEGO has produced a series of briefs to analyze the Social Protection Responses to COVID-19, drawing from WIEGO's database of social protection responses to COVID-19, as well as the trends and changes in the Social Protection for Informal Workers landscape, in order to support movements in their advocacy efforts to expand social protection to informal workers in this period of crisis and beyond.

These briefs comprise country cases of measures to protect informal workers from risks from lockdowns, from the pandemic itself, and more hazardous situations that may arise. These are not policy recommendations but are instead tools to share initiatives and policies implemented in different parts of the world.


Social Protection Briefing Notes

Issue #2: What do we mean by universal social protection?
English, French and Spanish

Many different organizations and specialists talk about universal social protection. But their vision of how to achieve universal social protection is very different. In this briefing note, we will look at how two of the main actors in this debate, the World Bank and the ILO, look at the issue so that we better understand how the two interpretations differ.

 

Issue #1: Registration mechanisms to expand social protection for informal workers: Lessons from Latin America
English, French and Spanish

Registration is an essential tool to expand social protection to informal workers. Furthermore, the previous existence of robust and encompassing social registries provided some countries with a great advantage when the COVID-19 crisis hit and triggered new demands from social protection systems. In this brief, we will look at experiences of registration mechanisms that have worked for informal workers in five countries: Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic.


Social Protection Responses to COVID-19

Issue #8: Measures to tackle gender-based violence amid the global pandemic
English, French and Spanish

By Annie Devenish and Cyrus Afshar

In this brief, we look at three countries, Indonesia, New Zealand and South Africa, that have responded to the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence at home and in the workplace in timely and innovative ways, exploring which elements of their approach could offer best practice lessons for other countries, and where they have fallen short. We also touch on a number of other smaller measures from other countries that have to address the issue of gender-based violence amid the pandemic.

 

Issue #7: Expanding and upgrading social protection measures for informal workers
English, French and Spanish

By Annie Devenish and Cyrus Afshar

The emergence of COVID-19 represents an unprecedented challenge for governments around the world. Initially no one knew the magnitude of the crisis or the extent of the interventions required to respond to the broad range of problems created, from health to production, finance and through to labour. In this brief, we look at cases where the sustainability of emergency government relief has been enhanced by extending the duration of initial short-term grants, as in the case of Colombia, Singapore and Brazil, or by thinking about making them permanent, as in South Africa, or by changing the nature of the relief offered (from a loan to a grant), as in the case of Sri Lanka, as well as how these movements have provided opportunities to push for further changes in policy.

 

Issue #6: Addressing the care burden challenges amid the pandemic
English, French and Spanish

By Annie Devenish and Cyrus Afshar

Women across the globe have found themselves at the frontline of COVID-19 responses and impacts. These risks are particularly acute for certain categories of informal workers who lack job, income and social security, including domestic workers, agricultural workers and small traders, among whom women are over-represented, as well as migrant workers and refugees. In this brief, we will analyse responses to the covid-19 for informal workers crisis regarding three aspects of the care burden: childcare, school feeding and income for older workers.

 

Issue #5: The role of digital technology in COVID social protection responses
English, French and Spanish

By Annie Devenish and Cyrus Afshar

In the edition #5 of this brief, we look at how digital technology is being used in the delivery of government grants and cash transfers to informal economy workers, and assess the extent to which it has been able to by-pass some of the traditional barriers the sector faces in terms of engagement with, and recognition by the state and the formal sector. We also reflect on how it has created new barriers, and look at how the delivery of social protection through digital technology platforms can be made to work optimally for informal workers, what needs to be in place for this to happen, and how governments can best support this.

 

Issue #4: Multi-dimensional approach to protect informal workers
English, French and Spanish

By Annie Devenish and Cyrus Afshar

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, worker-based organizations across the globe are advocating for a multidimensional policy response as part of their platform of demands. This must cover the various dimensions of a person’s needs; such as food security, accommodation, access to utilities, health, education, debt payments and income replacement. This issue focuses on three countries – Argentina, Burkina Faso and Indonesia – that have adopted multiple responses to tackle the impact of the pandemic, assessing the impact and appropriateness of these responses in meeting the needs of informal workers through the provision of cash transfers, food security measures, utilities subsidization and upskilling.

 

Issue #3 Informal workers and dialogue for social protection
English, French and Spanish

By Annie Devenish and Cyrus Afshar

This issue focuses on dialogue initiatives with informal workers in efforts to protect their livelihoods during the COVID-19 crisis. The cases selected were drawn from the WIEGO’s social protection responses to the crisis tracking database. In this issue, we learn how informal worker organizations in South Africa and Argentina have sought to foster productive dialogue spaces for engagement with the government around the social protection needs of informal economy workers.

 

Issue #2 Alternative ways to reach informal workers
English, French and Spanish

By Annie Devenish and Cyrus Afshar

The second issue focuses on alternative ways to reach informal workers, beyond social assistance (cash) support, drawing from the WIEGO’s social protection responses to the COVID-19 crisis tracking database. We turn first to Brazil, and the example of waste pickers and extended producer responsibility (EPR), looking at how alternative economic relations may be leveraged to finance further social protection for informal workers. Morocco, our second case study, provides an example of efforts to adapt social insurance to reach the informal economy. The COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to push for the inclusion of informal workers into social insurance schemes in the long term, and the adaptation of such schemes to meet informal workers' needs and budgets.

 

Issue #1 Government grants and cash transfers to informal workers
English, French and Spanish

By Annie Devenish and Cyrus Afshar

The first brief focuses on government grants and cash transfers. We assess the strengths and weaknesses of these social protection measures, looking at levels of coverage, eligibility criteria, appropriateness of targeting, accessibility and delivery methods. In the cases of Brazil and Cape Verde, critical to the ability to move quickly has been the presence of large databases through which many informal workers have already been registered under the social system. By drawing on these social assistance databases, these countries have been able to target vulnerable groups directly, including informal workers, and save valuable time in terms of collection and verification of recipient data.


Photo Credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage
Informal Economy Topic
Informal Economy Theme