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Publication | 29 October 2020

Social Protection and COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific

The COVID-19 pandemic is set to severely derail development gains, and could push millions more people into poverty. The number of food insecure people in the region could increase by over 80 percent as the incomes of already economically stressed populations fall further. Alarmed by the potential rise in poverty and food insecurity, many governments in Asian and Pacific nations are adapting, extending and scaling up social protection measures to mitigate COVID-19’s socioeconomic impact. This includes advancing payments, waiving conditionalities, increasing benefits (including one-off or unconditional cash transfers, inkind transfers, and subsidies) and coverage of social assistance schemes. Several governments are already managing largescale cash or food transfers or subsidies, e.g. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Others are also expanding social insurance and/or financial obligation support (waiver of utility bills), e.g. Myanmar.