2022 Health and Social Protection, Migration Mapping

Social protection for the forcibly displaced in low- and middle-income countries

Jason Gagnon, Mona Ahmed, Lisa Hjelm, Jens Hesemann

This paper provides the first overview of efforts by low- and middle-income countries to extend the coverage of national social protection systems to forcibly displaced persons within their borders. It presents a baseline of de jure (legal) and estimated de facto (actual) coverage in 12 countries; analyses the conditions that enable access to social protection by the forcibly displaced; discusses lessons-learned from Iraq, Sudan and Uganda in terms of challenges and successes; and offers guidance to major stakeholders on extending social protection initiatives to forcibly displaced persons.

The analysis suggests that government social protection systems are often nascent in LMICs hosting forcibly displaced populations. The maturity and history of the social protection system in the hosting country largely determines the adequate response towards inclusion of forcibly displaced persons, with more established systems better able to coordinate and create an inclusive environment for forcibly displaced populations. Governmental social protection programmes in LMICs are also often financially reliant upon external donors.

Subsidising access for forcibly displaced populations and host communities has delivered tangible results and positive change towards inclusion. While social protection for forcibly displaced persons is generally legally accessible in the countries reviewed, de facto access remains low due to systemic and institutional barriers, as well as the political economy of some hosting contexts. A complete picture remains elusive, however, due to large data gaps. National planning and policy-making, as well as international development co-operation, have an enabling role and should not yield to pressures against inclusion.

The study has been carried out in collaboration between OECD and EBA.