Accepted paper:

Implementing social protection in rural Zambia: why transformative expectations remain unfulfilled


Maria Klara Kuss (UNU-MERIT/Maastricht University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores social protection as socially transformative instrument in rural Africa. Analysing the views of local and intermediary powerholders in Zambia, it asks how Zambia's first National SCT scheme sits with the local understanding of poverty and social justice.

Paper long abstract:

This paper illustrates the political settlement process by analysing how Zambia's first National SCT scheme evolves through the interactions of local and intermediary actors in rural Zambia. It thus uses a bottom-up approach to policy analysis and assumes that polices are shaped and reshaped through the structured negotiations between actors at the bottom of the political settlement (see Puelzl and Treib, 2007; Lipsky, 1971, 1980; Grindle and Thomas, 1991). The paper builds on the analysis of about 40 interviews with power holders and implementers at the local and intermediary level of policy implementation in Zambia as well as a purposeful analysis of secondary literature. The findings suggest that local actors largely did not understand the transformative intention of the Inclusive scheme. Instead, they interpreted and adapted the content and purpose of the scheme in line with their local believes about poverty and deservingness. These findings thus indicate a large gap between the policy intention from above and the local understanding of the policy. Intermediary powerholders also appeared not empowered enough to thoughtfully understand the competing policy ideas of the Inclusive scheme and were therefore not able to translate them 'correctly' into locally meaningful terms. The process of policy interpretation and adaptation by local and intermediary actors thus shows the reiteration of the traditional values of the local welfare regime - not their transformation.

panel M5
Understanding social protection as technologies of social ordering and reproduction within contemporary development