Climate Shocks and the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) Programme in Uganda

In recognition of the climate risk and poverty nexus, the role of social protection in facilitating climate resilience is under investigation. A synthesis of evidence from Sub-Saharan African countries indicates that cash transfers can reduce the impact of weather shocks for poor households (Asfaw and Davis, 2018). Innovations to make social protection provision more climate risk responsive are taking place in various countries, including Ethiopia and Mozambique. In Uganda, the Expanding Social Protection (ESP) programme (2010-2015) was designed to reduce poverty and improve life chances for the poorest. This included operationalization of a cash transfer pilot, the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE), to generate evidence of impact and establish / test delivery systems. Using the impact evaluation of the SAGE programme conducted by OPM (2012-2014), the case study reported here integrates data of climate shocks/stresses to re-evaluate the performance of social protection as an enabler for households to address such shocks. As a result, actionable recommendations are generated to increase the climate shock responsiveness and thus effectiveness of social protection delivery. The case study research adds value to and re-interprets the OPM data (OPM, 2015). It documents and assesses the effects of climate shocks, and the ability of social protection to contribute to climate resilience.  OPM’s objective was to evaluate programme impact, whereas this study looked specifically to integrate climate shocks. The methodology enabled climate shocks to be contextualized to the specific sensitivities of the different localities, such as long hazardous dry spells that interact with farming and pastoralism. By integrating community level survey data with the historical climate record, the research team (IIED and UNMA) set out what constituted a climate hazard for each household, whilst considering how changes in households’ context affect the experience of climate shocks. This established location-relevant climate shocks to which SAGE assists resilience and recovery.  It establishes whether the effectiveness of social protection is inhibited by climate shocks; and it determines the effect of SAGE on the poorest households’ ability to resist and recover from climate shocks.