Wider Safety Nets to Reach Asia’s Most Vulnerable: Real-Time Policy Recommendations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to more than 185 countries and infected millions of people, causing a global health emergency and a major economic shock. Asia and the Pacific are some of the most affected areas due to the high population density that has not yet disappeared and a large number of informal and migrant workers in vulnerable sectors. Millions of people can fall into poverty if income and livelihoods are not protected during the crisis.

In response to the pandemic, safety net programs are being implemented in most Asian economies. Examples are cash transfers, in-kind food aid, wage subsidies, resource depletion, social insurance, and support for social pensions. The most common mechanisms are overpayments, which are gaining ground as an effective tool to support the poor even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but which have not been tested in the current crisis. The speed and scale of the response required for the pandemic are unprecedented, forcing governments and development experts to learn in real-time.

ADBI and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) hosted a series of three-part webinars on the challenges of the COVID-19 safety net and invited live conferences from senior government officials to design and implement the network’s responses. Protection against covid19. as well as social protection experts. ADBI has already distributed a questionnaire to government officials about the scale of the pandemic in their respective countries, the economic impact, the most vulnerable populations, and the implementation barriers they face. Developers and researchers are invited to respond and exchange ideas to reach the most vulnerable.

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