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Accepted Paper:

The Recipient, the Gift, and the Giver: Perceptions of Charity, Cash Assistance, and State-led Welfare during Covid-19 in Sub-Sahara Africa  
Joseph K. Assan (Brandeis University) Afia A. Adaboh (Brandeis University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper ascertains the impact of Covid-19 on state-led Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) conditional cash transfer programs in Ghana using qualitative/ethnographic methodologies. We posit a new political economy of social protection to mitigate its concomitant effects on livelihoods.

Paper long abstract:

The livelihoods and employment security of several millions of people, particularly youth, in Africa are increasingly uncertain and precarious because of infections and government-imposed restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The paper ascertains the impact of state-led Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) conditional cash transfer programs in Africa during COVID-19, using Ghana as a case study. Our research employs qualitative/ethnographic methodologies to explore the effects of covid-19 on livelihoods based social protection programs in Ghana. These programs are contested to have limited impact on vulnerable demographic groups and deprived households across the country and could be exacerbated by Covid-19. The paper argues that the current global pandemic and weakening of traditional safety nets in African countries because of the adoption of neoliberal policies have impaired the sustainability of many livelihoods, at the household level during this period of Covid-19 restrictions, especially for infected individuals and their households. We conclude that for LEAP to have a transforming impact on livelihood security and household wellbeing during Covid-19, the nature, extent, and scope of such programs should be redesigned considering Covid-19 restrictions and rising infection rates. We also recommend the need to increase the value of money transfers to participants who are disproportionately susceptible to Covid-19, livelihood insecurity, and extreme poverty beyond spatial targeting. We argue that a new political economy of social protection and associated policy programs should be adopted by state actors to tackle extreme poverty and mitigate the concomitant effects of Covid-19 on livelihoods sustainability and human wellbeing.

Panel P27c
The politics of expanding and sustaining social protection: continuities and ruptures in unsettled times III
  Session 1 Friday 2 July, 2021, -