Child poverty remains an issue of concern in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Although the region has made significant progress in reducing extreme poverty and improving health, education and child survival rates, progress has been uneven. Higher-income countries have advanced more than lower-middle-income ones, and those impacted by humanitarian conflicts have seen reversals in child well-being indicators.
This study aims to provide an initial general assessment of opportunities and challenges for shock-responsive social protection in the MENA region. It centres on the following research questions: 1) What are the key considerations in building the resilience and shockresponsiveness of national social protection systems in MENA?; 2) Are child-sensitive and equitable social protection mechanisms sufficiently equipped to face shocks?; and 3) How can national social protection systems be better equipped to implement a humanitarian response to covariate shocks?
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is confronted by significant challenges resulting from multiple shocks and complex emergencies: countries in the region face various risks in terms of natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods and drought; violent conflicts, such as in Syria, pose unprecedented challenges related to the scale of human displacement; and the breakdown of service provision caused by conflict is leading to the increasing prevalence of malnutrition and communicable diseases in Yemen.
Since the turn of the century, social assistance has emerged as a leading institution in the fight against poverty and vulnerability in the developing world. Large-scale programmes providing direct transfers to households in poverty have transformed the antipoverty policy agenda, moving it from traditional approaches of food aid and subsidies to regular and predictable forms of assistance.
Algeria is located in North Africa, on the Mediterranean coast. In 2016, around 33 per cent of the country’s 40.6 million inhabitants were younger than 18 years, and 11.6 per cent were younger than 5. With a Human Development Index of 0.745, Algeria ranks in the ‘high human development’ category (83rd out of 188 countries). In 2011, 5.5 per cent of the population lived below the national poverty line. Poverty levels tended to be higher in urban areas (5.8 per cent) than in rural areas (4.8 per cent).