Time of event

15:00–17:00 (Tokyo time)

Webinar Summary

Having spread to over 185 countries and infecting millions, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a global health emergency and profound economic shock. Asia and Pacific is one of the hardest-hit regions due to its high population density, yet to be eliminated poverty, and large numbers of informal and migrant workers in vulnerable sectors. Millions may return to poverty if incomes and livelihoods are not protected during the crisis.

As a response to the pandemic, safety net programs are being implemented in most Asian economies. Examples include cash transfers, in-kind food support, wage subsidies, utility waivers, social insurance, and social pension support. The most prevalent mechanisms are cash transfers, which gained traction even before the COVID-19 pandemic as an effective tool to support the poor but have not been tested in a crisis of the current magnitude. The speed and scale of the response required for the pandemic is unprecedented, compelling governments and development practitioners to learn lessons in real time.

ADBI and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) co-hosted a three-part webinar series addressing COVID-19 safety net challenges and real-time lessons for invited senior government officials directly engaged in the design and implementation of COVID-19 safety net responses, as well as social protection experts. ADBI distributed a questionnaire to government officials beforehand about the scale of the pandemic in their respective countries, its economic impact, the most vulnerable segments of the population, and implementation obstacles they may be facing. Development practitioners and researchers were asked to respond and share ideas about reaching the most vulnerable.

Webinar Three: Women’s Livelihoods at Risk and Safety Nets Beyond the COVID-19 Crisis

The third and final webinar in the series looked at how women have been affected by the pandemic, as they are disproportionately represented in the hardest-hit sectors and family care burdens have significantly increased. The session examined how public policies and government social protection programs can help women through economic and social recovery.

To conclude the series, participants were asked to take a forward-looking view of social and economic recovery beyond the pandemic. They considered how to transform emergency COVID-19 safety net responses into enduring social protection systems for the poor, helping to ensure that the next crisis does not require governments to start again from scratch.

  • Provide real-time lessons on safety net responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Exchange ideas on innovation opportunities to expand safety nets and cash transfer payments to the most vulnerable
  • Senior ADB developing member country government officials from departments of fiscal policy, labor, statistics, and information technology
  • Development practitioners
  • Policy researchers and innovators
  • Identification of real-time lessons on mobilizing large-scale cash transfers to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Discussion of potential innovations for cash transfer payment mechanisms that leverage research on financial inclusion, digital finance, and fintech
  • ADBI Policy Brief on how to capture safety net mobilization momentum to ensure progress toward social protection systems for all

Asian Development Bank

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