The Social Safety Net
Cornelia Mihaela Tesliuc
This chapter assesses Peru’s social safety net (SSN) and describes how to build a safety net to complement economic growth and public interventions, such as health and education, to contribute more effectively to the reduction of current and future poverty.
Safety nets are formal and informal measures that protect people from the worst effects of low income and poverty. Internationally, they include cash transfers, food programs, workfare, price and other types of subsidies, and programs that ensure access of the poor to essential public services, such as school vouchers or scholarships, fee waivers for health care services, and social funds. In Peru, the SSN consists mainly of food assistance and workfare programs. In addition, in Peru, social funds play an important role in ensuring access of poor households and communities to health, education, water, sanitation, roads, and electricity.
Two analytical techniques are used to understand the key strengths, weaknesses, and options of the SSN sector: (a) an assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of public transfers in redistributing income and reducing poverty; and (b) an assessment of the accountability mechanisms. This chapter investigates the design of the system (overall level of funding, spending/program mix); the design of key programs (missing the relevant pri- ority group, inadequate coverage, or low adequacy); implementation (differences between the provisions of the laws and regulations and how the programs are implemented in the field); and the effectiveness of the accountability mechanisms.
An innovative aspect of the Renditión de Cuentas para la Reforma Social de Perú (RECURSO) is its combination of qualitative and quantitative data sources, which are valu- able each in its own right, and yield important synergies when used together. The primary source of quantitative information is the Living Standards Measurement Survey (Encuesta National de Hogares, ENAHO 2003), including a special community-level module, which was