Does the Implementation of Social Safety Net Intervention Affect Indigenous Social Capital Systems for Coping with Livelihood Shocks? Ethnographic Evidence of Agro-pastoral Communities in Eastern Ethiopia

  • Getachew Shambel Endris
  • Paul Kibwika
  • Bernard B. Obaa
  • Jemal Yousuf Hassan


Adverse events or shocks that trigger a decline in household welfare and consumption remain to be the main causes of household vulnerability among rural households in Ethiopia. The government of Ethiopia has been trying to reduce this vulnerability and improve the resilience of the affected households through a targeted social safety net program. However, the interaction of this program with existing indigenous mutual support system is not clear, as formal efforts are not often considerate of informal arrangements. This study examined the effect of a social safety net program on local level social capital. The key questions guiding this study was: how do mutual support arrangements enhance or constrain the household’s abilities to participate, invest, reciprocate, and cooperate in mutual support networks to cope with shocks in the study communities and with what outcomes? This was mainly studied using ethnographic research design. The study was conducted in two neighborhood areas that are currently receiving formal safety net. Data were collected through qualitative in-depth interviews with 30 households and a household survey interviews with 70 households that are distributed in three major categories: beneficiaries, non-beneficiaries, and graduates of PSNP. In addition, 35 key informant interviews were conducted with mutual support group leaders and local elders. The key findings provide evidence suggesting that household’s willingness to reciprocate and cooperate in informal networks for coping with shocks seem to decline in the research site where safety net program was identified with poor targeting performance. This might be an indication that the mechanisms by which informal arrangements can be crowded out by a public safety net may depend on how well safety net is targeted and by the specific institutional and implementation practices that underpin safety net. The study recommends that better community targeting must take the precedence. While the development and provision of formal safety nets is vital in improving the risk coping and adaptation capacity of the poor, it should not result in crowding out of preexisting informal safety nets. The key question for any further insurance provision should be how it should build on existing social capital system.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Getachew Shambel Endris
    • 1
  • Paul Kibwika
    • 1
  • Bernard B. Obaa
    • 1
  • Jemal Yousuf Hassan
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Extension and Innovation StudiesMakerere UniversityKampalaUganda
  2. 2.Department of Rural Development and Agricultural ExtensionHaramaya UniversityDire DawaEthiopia

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