Center For Global Development (16.02.2022) South Africa responded to the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown using a combination of existing social protection programmes, unemployment insurance, and additional measures to support those most affected. This paper reviews policies and implementation with the objective of highlighting lessons for the global community, including on the use of digital mechanisms. The government adopted a two-pronged and largely cash-based approach: unemployment benefits for formal sector workers and cash transfers to vulnerable individuals, informal workers, and beneficiaries of existing grants. Top-up payments for existing grants were rolled out efficiently; the new Special Relief of Distress (SRD) grant posed challenges but ultimately succeeded in reaching over six million previously uncovered beneficiaries. It may even become a permanent feature of South Africa’s social protection system.
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