Social Protection in Ethiopia: Making the Case for a More Comprehensive and Equitable Intervention in the Digital Economy

Berhane, Zerihun
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Southern Centre for Inequality Studies (SCIS)
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Ethiopia implements a range of contributory and non-contributory social protection programmes that jointly cover about 21% of the population. Using document review and secondary data, this paper analyses coverage, adequacy, and options for the vertical and horizontal expansion of social protection in Ethiopia, including cost estimates. It argues that the major challenges for the expansion of social protection in the country are political and financial. Politically, the government’s use of social protection as an instrument to promoting political stability made social protection subscribe to productive objectives and caused it to be tied to public works and conditional on labour contribution. Moreover, food security strategy and institutions dominated social protection for decades, making it essentially a rural programme rather than being all-inclusive. Financially, the high cost of implementing large-scale programmes made donor financing a constant feature of social protection in Ethiopia, having implications for sustainability of programmes. This paper provides a cost estimate scenario analysis of three social protection options: social pensions, child benefits, and disability grants. The cost estimate results indicate that implementing these programmes would be fairly affordable, particularly if accompanied by domestic resource mobilization, and suggests restructuring social protection institutions to make them more inclusive.
Future of workers, Social protection in Ethiopia, Non-contributory social protection programmes, Food security strategy, Social pensions, Child benefits, Disability grants, Digital Economy
Berhane, Z. 2020. Social protection in Ethiopia: making the case for a more comprehensive and equitable intervention in the digital economy. Future of Work(ers) SCIS Working Paper Number 6. Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, Wits University.