Working Paper
On the Edge

The Role of Food-based Safety Nets in Helping Vulnerable Households Manage Food Insecurity

Safety nets have often been controversial instruments, condemned in some circles as short-term palliatives or even a waste of money. Much recent evidence shows that safety nets not only support poverty reduction but also economic growth. The existence of safety nets encourages adoption of higher income livelihood strategies that are associated with higher, but prudent, risk. Safety nets should be one component of a broader social protection strategy, which uses a plethora of instruments to address a wide array of risks and associated vulnerability. For the poorest of the poor one of their key concerns is access to sufficient food for a healthy and active life. Food-based safety nets are therefore an important instrument for some of the poor and food insecure who are vulnerable to critical levels of food deficit. Integration of safety nets within broader social protection strategies enables a more cohesive relief and development approach, as opposed to a relief to development continuum or more linear approach. This more approximates reality where relief and development activities generally coexist.