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Disaster-responsive social protection: Policy brief for the Pacific Small Island Developing States

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Executive Summary

This policy brief aims to inform ongoing efforts in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to review and design social protection systems. The focus of the current issue is on Samoa. Designed and implemented properly, disaster-responsive social protection (DRSP) has tremendous potential to help address the most common causes of poverty in the Pacific SIDS, most notably the lack of access to social services and high exposure to shocks. DRSP mechanisms are commonly rolled out after disasters, but they can also be used ex-ante by building the resilience and adaptive capacity of individuals and households.

Making social protection disaster-responsive means that current and future levels of disaster risk, projected intensity and frequency of hazards, the exposure of population and its coping capacity should be incorporated into the review and design of all social protection programmes. It requires using data and evidence to design targeted parameters that can accommodate and respond to the dynamic changes in the patterns of vulnerability and exposure to hazards, as well as to the double burden imposed by disasters on people who are vulnerable. Predictable and adequate finance is key to the credibility and success of DRSP. Public finance can be reinforced by innovative measures, such as strengthening linkages with contingency reserves and insurance, and aligning social protection with the priorities of climate finance.
Finally, making DRSP work is a whole-of-society undertaking that requires collaboration across various ministries, between development and humanitarian actors, and between national and village authorities.