why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Why citizens’ perceptions matter: social safety nets and state-citizen relations in the post-Arab spring Dr. Nicola Jones, Research Fellow, [email protected] Bath, December 3, 2013 (same image as on front of country briefing – to b e confirmed)

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Why citizens’ perceptions matter:. (same image as on front of country briefing – to be confirmed). Dr. Nicola Jones, Research Fellow, [email protected]. Bath, December 3, 2013. social safety nets and state-citizen relations in the post-Arab spring. Overview. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Page 1: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

social safety nets and state-citizen relations in the post-

Arab spring

Dr. Nicola Jones,Research Fellow,

[email protected]

Bath, December 3, 2013(same image as on front of country

briefing – to be confirmed)

Page 2: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:


1. Context: growing regional interest in social safety net reform and implications for state-citizen relations

2. Empirical findings: results from Transforming Cash Transfers beneficiary perception study MENA cases– Right to information – Right to complain – Right to a voice – Importance of relationships of trust– Need for governance frameworks

and systems

3. Conclusions and ways forward


Page 3: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

1. The Arab Spring and a regional rethink about a state-citizen


Page 4: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Rethinking the state-citizen contract

Historically…• Regional norm relied on a redistribution system that protected against destitution through

universal food and fuel subsidies for all citizens • Gov’ts responded to crises by scaling up subsidies or expanding public employment but

system was hard to sustain fiscally • Moreover, regressive approach to social policy, with

minimal empowerment dividends

More recently….• Reform is on the agenda but politically complex • Optimistic view is that social safety nets could enhance the

state-citizen contract (Silva et al., 2013)• Realists however caution that inducing civic participation

in programme governance is fraught with challenges and trajectories are often non-linear (Mansuri and Rao, 2013)


Page 5: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Challenge of high vulnerability/ low levels of resilience


Page 6: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

SSN spending with/out subsidies in MENA cf. developing world


Page 7: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

A renewed interest in the politics of social safety nets


Page 8: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Towards a transformative social protection agenda?


(Source: UNICEF, 2008)

Page 9: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Safety nets and citizenship in conflict-affected contexts

• Increasing interest in potential of social transfers, to strengthen state legitimacy and citizenship in conflict-affected contexts (Carpeneter et al., 2012)

• However, the evidence base is quite limited. Osofian (2011) finds positive evidence in Kenya’s HSNP but troubling evidence in Sierra Leone’s Social Safety Net programme of exacerbated state-citizen tensions

• Consensus that it is not just what services are provided, but whether they are provided in a way that preserves/ builds individual and group dignity (Ringold et al., 2012).

• A new focus on the politics of implementation – rather than more common politics of adoption that has dominated political economy

Page 10: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

2. Transforming cash transfers beneficiary perceptions study

• DFID-funded cross regional study in MENA and SSA looking at beneficiary perceptions of unconditional cash transfer programmes in conflict- affected contexts

• Qualitative research study looking at programme participants’ views on programme functioning , impacts and governance

Page 11: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Middle East case study findings

Palestinian National Cash Transfer Programme in Gaza and the West Bank

Yemen’s Social Welfare Fund

Page 12: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Programmes in a nutshell

Country Occupied Palestinian Territories (Gaza and West Bank) Yemen

West Bank Gaza

Name Palestinian National Cash Transfer Programme Social Welfare Fund

Start date 2010/2011 but based on amalgamation of predecessor programmes 1996

Transfer amount From 750–1,800 NIS ($195-468) Maximum benefit of YER 4,000 ($20) for a family of 6 people, per month.

Frequency of transfer Quarterly Quarterly

Complementary services

Social health insurance, food aid for the poorest, education fee waivers

Fee exemptions for basic services (but seldom implemented)

Target groupExtremely poor households; with additional weighting for vulnerable groups,

Since 2008 includes all people living below the poverty line.

Coverage Approx. 99,000 families in West Bank; 48,000 families in Gaza

Approx. 1,500,000 beneficiaries.

Page 13: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Qualitative research methodology

Research tools

Gaza West Bank Yemen

Research sites Beit Lahia, Rafah

Hebron, Jenin

Hodeiah, Taiz

Key informant interviews (national, governorate, municipality/ camp level)

18 32 16

Focus group discussions with beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries

12 13 8

In-depth interviews 23 23 14

Life histories 4 4 9

Family case studies 4 4 2

Community mapping 4 4 4

Structured observations of programme implementer-beneficiary interface

6 6 5


Page 14: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

A right to information• Little investment in strategic communication of programme objectives,

targeting, provisions to beneficiaries/ public – ‘It is a gift from God and we buy rice and sugar. When we receive the

amount it is a happy day for us [...] I know nothing about the programme, sometimes they say it is support from abroad or from the president, I don’t know.’ (beneficiary woman, Taiz, Yemen).

• Lack of explicit budget and plans for communication as part of programme design and implementation considerations

– e.g. in oPT low awareness that programme is 50% funded by Palestinian Authority; assumption is donor funding.

• Results in widespread suspicion and frustration –between beneficiaries and service providers; and national & subnational programme staff

– ‘The formula is like the coca-cola secret formula – we know nothing…’ (male FGD, Jenin, West Bank)


Page 15: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

“I feel guilty and powerless – I cannot explain why some people are excluded or included. So I can listen to people’s problems but I can’t really do much. I just gather information but don’t have a role in decision-making. It is a very frustrating working environment.’

Social worker, Jenin, West Bank

“Even if we were hanging by a rope they would not help us!

They don’t tell us anything [about other services and

entitlements] – only from each other and our neighbours do we

learn about our rights.’

Bedouin woman, West Bank.

Page 16: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

A right to complain

“The CT is a compensation for the Palestinian people, because they have been uprooted and displaced’ (male refugee, beneficiary, Gaza).

‘This is better than a hand-out. It is my right’ (Older female beneficiary, Hebron, West Bank).

Beneficiaries are less aware of their rights. Post office and SWF workers treat beneficiaries with no respect’ (community leader, male, Zabid, Yemen).

• A grievance system exists in oPT but citizen confidence is limited; increasing use of media exposés to call implementers to account.

• In Yemen officials are ostensibly open to receiving complaints but there is no official grievance system; although matters are sometimes addressed informally


Page 17: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

A right to a voice


• Beyond information provision, institutionalised feedback channels and spaces for interaction can be key to strengthening the relationship between service providers and beneficiaries

• More challenging in UCT programmes as less regular contact between implementers and beneficiaries

• No direct contact on payment days • Short annual visits by social workers in OPT and Yemen• Only informal information-sharing between beneficiaries

• When we meet we talk about our concerns, but there are no places where we can raise our voices and speak up. It would be great if these places existed...But the people we speak to should be in a position to help …people who can decide, and can provide us with the things we really need’ (Female beneficiary, Rafah, Gaza).

Similarly, strong demand to be involved in tracking and measuring impact, but dearth of participatory M&E mechanisms (e.g. social audits, community monitoring groups, score cards)

Page 18: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

The importance of relationships of trust

Merely receiving services from the state doesn’t mean people feel as if they are citizens of the state; how they are treated by the state is a critical factor in shaping sentiments of citizenship (Eyben and Ladbury, 2006; Corbridge, 2005)

‘Being poor means desperation, humility and disrespect’ (FGD, males, Taiz, Yemen).

‘Key blockages include: – excessive social worker caseloads; – social workers’ data collection & policing

mandate not advice, referrals – the corrosive nature of ‘wasta’;

“There is political Involvement and biases …The main challenge is that community leaders are given the main role in selection (Youth leader, Taiz, Yemen).


Page 19: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

The need for governance frameworks and systems

• Tembo (2013) cautions when multiple players are engaged in programme delivery, without clear guidance /oversight, confusion can prevail. – CTs in oPT and Yemen involve a complex web of actors with significant

coordination and capacity challenges, and thus promoting active citizenship will require a clear governance framework and system.

• Single registry systems are a useful tool:– OPT provides example of promising practice for coordination,

information sharing

• A strong M&E culture is also key to good governance (Joshi and Houtzager, 2012) but not well embedded in our cases, but some improvements:– Palestine’s MOSA is facilitating coordination of a cluster of donor-

funded impact assessments – Yemen, with support from donors, is also improving M&E


Page 20: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

3. Conclusions and ways forward

System strengthening;

Strategic communication;

Streamlined coordination

Processes and mechanisms

to involve beneficiaries


Page 21: Why citizens’ perceptions matter:

Further reading • Hickey, S. and Bracking, S. (2005) ‘Exploring the politics of chronic poverty:

from representation to a politics of justice?’ World Development 33(6): 851–65.

• Jones, N. and Samuels, F. with Malachowska, A. (2013) Holding Cash Transfers to Account: Beneficiary and community perspectives. Synthesis Report. London: ODI

• Jones, N. and Shaheen, M. (2012) Transforming Cash Transfers: Beneficiary and community perspectives on the Palestinian National Cash Transfer Programme. Part 2: The case of the West Bank. London: ODI.

• Silva, J., Levin, V. and Morgandi, M. (2013) Inclusion and resilience: the way forward for social safety nets in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.

• Tembo, F. (2013) Rethinking Social Accountability in Africa: Lessons from the Mwananchi Programme. London: ODI.

• Also see: Transformingcashtransfers.org


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