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Legislating and Implementing Welfare Policy Reforms

‘Welfare’ (or 'social protection') policy is an expanding area of public policy across much of Africa. Pensions, grants and benefits in kind are important to many poor individuals and households. International organisations, donors from the global North, and African political parties and civil society organisations have been pressing for expanded cash transfers as a mechanism to reduce poverty (and, for political parties, to win votes and legitimacy). The research programme on Legislating and Implementing Welfare Policy Reforms in Africa examines how and why welfare policy reforms have been introduced in some countries but not in others, and how and why the design of policies differs between countries. The objective is to understand better 'what works' politically in contemporary Africa.

The programme was funded primarily, from 2012 to 2016, by the UK's Department for International Development (DfID) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Two-day workshops on Social Protection in Africa were held in May 2013, May 2014 and June 2015, attended by researchers from universities as well as practitioners from South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. Researchers have also presented findings at workshops in Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa. The research is led by Professor Jeremy Seekings.

The research comprises case-studies of selected Anglophone countries across Southern, East and West Africa, as well as comparative papers on key themes. The countries covered (and the researchers involved over the course of the programme) are:

  • Uganda (Eduard Grebe, John Bosco Mubiru and Paul Bukuleki),
  • Kenya (Mia Granvik and Jeremy Seekings),
  • Tanzania (Marianne Ulriksen) and Zanzibar (Jeremy Seekings)
  • Malawi (Sam Hamer and Hangala Siachiwena),
  • Zambia (Abigail Kabandula, Singumbe Muyeba, Hangala Siachiwena and Jeremy Seekings),
  • Namibia (Isaac Chinyoka),
  • Botswana (Sam Hamer, Jeremy Seekings and Isaac Chinyoka),
  • Zimbabwe (Isaac Chinyoka and Jeremy Seekings),
  • Mauritius (Jeremy Seekings),
  • Lesotho and Swaziland (Mia Granvik),
  • Ghana (Eduard Grebe)
  • South Africa (Gabby Kelly, Renee Roux and Jeremy Seekings).

Nicoli Nattrass has examined patterns in public health expenditures across Africa. Kevin Donovan, with additional funding raised through Privacy International, examined the use of biometric identification in the implementation of cash transfers in South Africa and Kenya.

The research focuses on the period since about 2000, but also examines some of the historical roots of contemporary programmes in countries such as Botswana. Research draws on: interviews with current and former government ministers and officials, as well as personnel from NGOs, donor organisations and international agencies; analysis of government and other documents; and, where appropriate, archival material.

Research findings from this work are listed in the Working Papers section of our website.