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Social Protection

A consortium consisting of the Development Planning Unit (DPU) of University College, University of London (UCL) , Adi Grat University in Northern Ethiopia and the Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA) have secured a grant of €301,436 (Grant # W 08.390.005) from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Project Focus

The overall aim of this two-year project is to evaluate existing policies and practices and to come up with new and alternative options to accelerate livelihood improvement among the Pastoralist of Afar Region in Ethiopia.

The project focuses on designing ways by which inclusive growth could better be attained through different measures of social protection. It will do this by assessing the social institutions and the impacts of the Productive Safety Net Program in the Afar Region by mapping out challenges and policy learning opportunities.

Afar society in transition

The Afar Region is arid and sparsely populated. The traditionally male dominated Afar society is currently in a state of transition. Livelihoods in the region are mainly reliant on pastoralism, but many women in particular tend to diversify their income streams to include a variety of informal urban employment activities.

This economic diversification and transformation opportunities that are presented for Afar women pastoralists in these changing times are emerging trends which need to be studied and understood properly.

The Research Team

Zeremariam Fre leads the project alongside fellow Principle Investigator Dr.Zaid of Adigrat (where he is the President of the University). They will both work closely with the other colleagues in the consortium. As well as the core collaborators, the Samara University and other relevant institutions in the Afar Regional State of Ethiopia will be heavily involved.

The programme committee of the NWO ranked the proposal top among the submissions. The fund will be managed by PENHA and formal agreements between the funder and the consortium members are being currently drawn up with the research expected to formally begin within three to four months.

Continuing a long-standing collaboration

Zeremariam remarks, “This has been a 12 month journey involving a lot of hard work and moral support from a number of colleagues.”

“I hope this will contribute to our consolidation of partnerships with Ethiopian academic institutions, some of whom I have had a long standing association with.”

This association helped create a formal partnership in 2011 which has seen DPU MSc students visit Ethiopia to work with Mekelle University on overseas fieldwork in recent years.



Social protection programs aim to facilitate the process of inclusive development among the needy in society through either single or multiple interventions. As the results of recent studies have shown, the predominantly pastoralist and agro-pastoralist populated the Afar region of Ethiopia has been lagging behind other regions in terms of improvements in reducing levels of poverty. This calls for designing new ways to achieve inclusive growth, through social protection and other measures. A possible scenario of actions needs to be preceded by comprehensive research, not only on the effectiveness of current development efforts but also on ways in which new and improved methods can be instituted. Thus, the overall aim of the research is to evaluate existing policies and practices and come up with new and alternative policy options on ways to speed up the process of livelihood improvement among the pastoral and agro-pastoral Afars in Ethiopia. The project will assess the social institutions and the impacts of the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) in the Afar Region by mapping out the challenges and policy learning opportunities.

Final findings Social protection in the Afar Region, Ethiopia published. Click here


Status and Determinants of Poverty and Income Inequality in Pastoral and Agro-pastoral Communities: Household-based Evidence from Afar Regional State, Ethiopia 

Exploring the implications of formal and informal social protection practices among the Afar communities in Ethiopia 

Social Protection for Inclusive Development in Afar Region of Ethiopia: Participatory Rural Appraisal Report

Critical reflections on safety net policies and practices with respect to social protection among pastoral peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa

Conference Proceedings: Social protection as a pathway for inclusive development among the pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in Africa [Revised version]

 Social protection as a pathway for inclusive development among the pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in Africa

Policy Brief: Social protection among the Afar pastoralist communities in Ethiopia: Beyond survival towards transformation

Report on Samara Policy Dialogue: The Consultative workshop of SPIDA Research consortium and regional Stakeholders on PSNP in Afar Regional State, Ethiopia


Blog: Beyond Survival - Rethinking Safety Nets for Pastoralists in Ethiopia 

For more resources on Social Protection:

INCLUDE Newsletter

The article is reproduced (with minor changes) from the University College London webpage.