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Insecurity, risk and vulnerability

Armando Barrientos


The descriptors of the research programme at the start of Phase 3 are as follows:

The research will focus on the linkages existing between risk and vulnerability on the one hand, and chronic poverty on the other. It will examine the extent to which insecurity, risk and vulnerability lead to poverty traps. It will identify the conditions which facilitate or limit these effects. The findings from this research will also contribute to identifying the conditions under which social protection can effectively tackle chronic poverty.

Thematic research questions to be addressed:

  • What are the main forms of insecurity, vulnerability and protection affecting the poor and the chronic poor?
  • What evidence is there to support the view that behavioural responses by the poor to vulnerability and insecurity are responsible for poverty traps?
  • What are the implications of focusing on multidimensional persistent vulnerability for the measurement and understanding of chronic poverty, and for the design of effective policy intervmentions?
  • What is the role of household decision-making and household dynamics on patterns of vulnerability and protection for poor older people, and what is their association with movements in and out of chronic poverty?

Policy analysis questions to be addressed:

  • Can social protection tackle chronic poverty? Given conventional approaches suggesting social protection is effective in tackling transient, but not chronic, poverty, this is a key analytical and policy issue. An important objective of this sub-programme is to change conventional views in this respect.
  • What type of social protection interventions focusing on insecurity and vulnerability are most effective in tackling chronic poverty?
  • What is the impact of cash-transfer-based child labour eradication programmes on the persistence of poverty?
  • What is the impact of cash transfers for older people on movements in and out of chronic poverty?Why do policy preferences, of donors, governments and other stakeholders, sideline effective chronic policy interventions?
  • What are the costs and sustainability conditions of introducing social protection interventions for the chronic poor in low income countries?

It is encouraging that the research completed so far has by and large addressed the research questions above, and the social protection worked planned for the next two years will consolidate work done in respect to the policy questions.

This research summary was presented at the Social Protection for the Poorest in Africa - Learning from Experience, Entebbe, Uganda, 8-10 September 2008.

Publication Type(s)

Research Summary


vulnerability risk insecurity


RS_5_insecurity.pdf PDF 291.2 KB

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