Worldwide—Social Protection Approaches to COVID-19 Expert Advice Service (SPACE)

Client: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (AusAid)

Duration: 2020-2021

Region: Worldwide

Country: Worldwide

Solutions: Fragile States Climate Governance Economic Growth

Countries across the globe are using or adapting social protection systems and programs, as well as humanitarian cash assistance, to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Getting support quickly to those in need is helping them to meet unexpected costs and compensate for the loss of income—both in the immediate and longer term as countries enter periods of COVID-driven recession.

Between April 2020 and November 2021, the Social Protection Approaches to COVID-19 Expert Advice Service (SPACE) supported decision-makers across national governments, donors, and implementing partners in more than 40 countries with independent, evidence-based, timely, and actionable advice to meet growing needs. Direct support was responsive to the unique requirements of specific actors and contexts and broadly addressed the following themes:

  • Social protection and humanitarian linkages
  • Gender and social inclusion principles
  • Programme adaptation and phasing
  • Shock responsive social protection
  • Delivery systems including targeting and registration, transfer values, payment mechanisms, information management, communications, grievance redress mechanisms, and monitoring and evaluation
  • Recovery and systems strengthening
  • Digital technology
  • Anti-corruption
  • Economic impacts
  • Localisation
  • Climate and environment
  • Economic inclusion
  • Informal workers

SPACE was a joint initiative of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Better Assistance in Crises and Gender-Responsive Social Protection programs; GIZ (the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development); and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The program was managed by DAI through the FCDO framework agreement Expert Advisory Call Down Services (EACDS) Lot B Strengthening Resilience and Response to Crises, and the helpline advice is provided by independent consultants contracted by FCDO, GIZ, DFAT, and other partners. SPACE benefitted from the support and engagement of GSMA, the Centre for Disaster Protection, and the HEART Consortium. SPACE publications can be found on

Sample Activities

  • Provide technical guidance on options for using social protection and humanitarian assistance to combat the economic impact of COVID, through adaption, development, phasing, coordination, and mapping of responses
  • Advise on the application of gender and social inclusion principles when providing social protection.
  • Advise on localization: working with affected communities, community groups, local government, etc. to improve (e.g.) targeting, registration, distribution, and inclusion.
  • Provide policy guidance on the provision of humanitarian assistance and social protection to address the economic impacts of COVID.
  • Review, and support the development of, country-specific plans for social protection and humanitarian systems, as applied to the response to the economic impact of COVID.
  • Share evidence accrued over time and globally through country case studies, and international best practices.
  • Provide learning sessions through multiple media (webinars, learning briefs, country-specific sessions, etc.)

Select Results

  • Independent advice provided through more than 120 engagements, in more than 40 countries, to more than 25 actors (donors, implementing partners, and governments).
  • Monitoring data provides evidence that SPACE engagements: 1. facilitated users to influence partners; 2. supported in convening and coordinating among actors; 3. aligned and amplified ongoing and planned work in the sector; 4. directly informed program and response designs; and 5. brokered access and uptake of knowledge and evidence in the sector.
  • More than 50 online resources made available to guide the effective design and delivery of social protection and humanitarian systems in response to COVID-19; documents have been accessed more than 21,000 times.


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