Social protection initiatives are indispensable as they offer most needed assistance to exceedingly poor individuals or households. Through social protection initiatives, the poor and vulnerable are able to deal with economic and social risks such as unemployment, sickness, old age and disability. Cash transfers are examples of social protection initiatives which ensure disadvantaged groups such as the terminally ill, HIV patients, Orphans, food insecure homestead’s and people with disabilities access basic services. The main objective of social protection is to reduce vulnerability of poor individuals as they offer a source of income, which the poor use to access basic services. The poor and other vulnerable groups are susceptible to livelihood risks, and cash transfers promote their social status by reducing their social and economic vulnerability. Research by Devereux and Wheeler (2004) established that Social protection is a major contributor to poverty a key millennium development goal. Different initiatives of social protection services empower the poor and vulnerable. For the purposes of this research paper, the scope of social protection will be confined to cash and consumption transfers. Thus, the thesis statement for the research paper is; Social Protection, especially cash transfers offers the possibility of income or consumption transfers to poorer people and the vulnerable.
According to a DFID (Department for International Development) report 2011, Cash transfers emerged in the late 1990’s in the international arena, and in the developing countries mainly as a risk and vulnerability management tool. To date, programs funded by cash transfers are estimated to cover a billion people, mostly in the developing world as this is where poverty bites the most. Recipients of cash transfers have adequate resources that allow them to sustain basic levels of consumption. Cash transfers are usually given in forms of child grants, income support, disability benefits and conditional and unconditional cash transfers.
How do cash transfers fit into social protection services? Cash transfer is just one instrument among others in social protection services. Cash transfers are mainly provided by nongovernmental organizations and governments to persons and households at social risks. Cash transfers can either be conditional or unconditional. Conditional cash transfers mandate the beneficiaries to fulfil certain requirements such as nutrition, access to medical and education facilities. Conditional cash transfers could also be provided as long the beneficiary is providing labour for some work. Unconditional cash transfers can be used as the beneficiary wishes as there are no conditions attached to the transfer (Creti and Jaspars, 2006).
The poor are the most vulnerable in the society (Hulme, Hanlon, and Barrientos, 2012) because they are easily exposed to many risks. Due to their low incomes, it is impossible to save and buy...