Dr. Stephen Devereux, Anna Wolkenhauer, PhD
Dr. Stephen Devereux, Anna Wolkenhauer, PhD
Our Mercator Fellow Stephen Devereux is investigating the role of international donors in the spread of social protection in Africa. Having published a CRC 1342 working paper, he is currently writing a paper with Anna Wolkenhauer on this topic.

Almost non-existent in Africa 20 years ago, social cash transfers targeted to the poor and vulnerable have been adopted today by the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In his CRC 1342 working paper, Stephen Devereux describes four causal mechanisms that are being discussed in the literature to have led to the rapid introduction of social protection programmes in Africa since the millennium - learning, com­petition, emulation, and coercion. Devereux then focuses on the pivotal role of transnational actors, specifically international development agencies, as ‘policy pollinators’ for social protection. By introducing ’policy pollination’, Devereux contributes a fifth mechanism to the literature on the diffusion of social protection in the Global South. “These agencies”, Devereux writes, “deployed a range of tactics to induce African governments to implement cash transfer programmes and establish social protection systems, including:

  1. building the empirical evidence base that cash transfers have posi­tive impacts, for advocacy purposes;
  2. financing social protection programmes until governments take over this responsibility;
  3. strengthening state capacity to deliver social protection, through technical assistance and training workshops;
  4. commissioning and co-authoring national social protection policies;
  5. encour­aging the domestication of international social protection law into national legis­lation."

Devereux does not make any judgement as to whether a donor-driven process of introducing social protection programmes is good or bad. But he raises the question about the extent “to which the agendas of development agencies are aligned or in conflict with national priorities, and whether social protection programmes and systems would flourish or wither if international support was withdrawn”.

At the moment, Stephen Devereux and CRC 1342 member Anna Wolkenhauer are looking even more closely at international development agencies in pushing for the adoption of cash transfer programmes by African governments. They argue for making individual agents and their agendas central in the analysis of such policy diffusion, and they do this by analysing the social protection policy diffusion process in Zambia through three individual agents located between the national and the international.

Devereux and Wolkenhauer presented their draft paper at an InIIS/CRC 1342 colloquium in mid-May and have received valuable feedback by colleagues from the University of Bremen as well as international researchers. They are planning to submit the refined version of their paper within the next couple of weeks to an international peer-reviewed journal.


Read Stephen Devereux’s working paper: Policy pollination. A brief history of social protection’s brief history in Africa

Dr. Stephen Devereux
Dr. Anna Wolkenhauer
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67463
E-Mail: anna.wolkenhauer@uni-bremen.de