The East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region has experienced one of the fastest and most impressive expansions of social protection interventions, including for children, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021. SPRI Global researchers are currently supporting UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office in producing a systematic review of the social protection policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in East Asia and Pacific, as well as a socioeconomic analysis of the sustainability, child-sensitivity, shock-responsiveness, and adequacy of these interventions.
The research aims to uncover how social protection programmes have and can be expanded in the region, how certain programmes erected in response to the COVID-19 pandemic serve as milestone-achieving building blocks for the continued expansion of national social protection systems, and how programmes can be expanded to ensure universal coverage of children to ensure that no child is left behind. The exercise seizes the momentum created by the pandemic to highlight the need for governments to organise and restructure social protection systems to strengthen the long-term social contract between the State and its children and citizenry in times both with and without crisis, and to expand national capacities in responding to the compounding effects of shock and disaster.
The research aims to identify lessons learned in terms of efficiency, adequacy, and appropriateness of emergency responses as well as medium-and long-term fiscal and programmatic sustainability. Findings of the exercise aim to contribute to the discussion around and advocacy towards building and sustaining comprehensive social protection systems in the region, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting papers will contribute to the global UNICEF call for strengthening social protection services for children.