Igor Vinci, Carol Djeddah, May Hani


In most developing countries, state-led social protection systems struggle to satisfy the need of social assistance, insurance and services for the rural poor. This article builds a case for considering more thoroughly the role of rural organisations, intended as formal and informal groups of rural producers and labourers, in social protection systems. Thanks to their broad social coverage, particularly in hard-to-reach informal economies, they can act as efficient partners of governments in social protection policies and programs.

Building on a comprehensive literature review and two cases studies, the article shows how rural organisations perform a dual role: 1) they represent the needs and interests of their members, with the potential to help formulating and implementing social protection policies and programs; and 2) they conduct collective practices that help the poor to reduce and manage risk.

The results of this study suggest that governments should build upon existing mechanisms and resources, complementing rather than substituting them. It stresses the need for developing more in-depth research focusing on the opportunities and constraints implied by involving rural organisations in social protection systems. Such effort would help identify more clearly what measures are needed to strengthen them and harness their true potential.


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