Social protection is the set of collective welfare mechanisms that enable individuals or households to cope financially with the consequences of social risks, i.e. situations that may cause a fall in resources or an increase in expenditure (old age, illness, disability, unemployment, family responsibilities, etc.).


There are currently four approaches to social risk management in Africa, three of which are generally financed by tax systems:

- The assistance logic: benefits are paid to individuals who need them.

- The insurance logic: benefits are paid to individuals who are insured against such a risk.

- The mixed logic which combines the two previous logics.


The 4th logic is the community logic, which translates into solidarity between individuals in the management of different social risks.


In spite of these different systems that have been put in place, there is a real weakness in Africa in the proportion of the population with access to these benefits, farmers constitute the largest component of the population (nearly 85%) and workers in the informal sector are not covered. These difficulties of access to social protection, particularly formal social protection, place these workers and their families in a situation of vulnerability to disease, poverty, inequality and social exclusion throughout their lives.


The 4 billion people in the world who do not have access to formal social protection mechanisms are mostly in developing countries. Nearly all maternal deaths (99%) occur in developing countries, more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa and almost a third in South Asia.

In 2015, 303,000 women died during or after pregnancy or childbirth. Most of these deaths occurred in low-income countries and most of them could have been prevented if they had access to social protection.


Surveys show that several African countries lose more than €1 trillion in public funds every year that could improve access to social protection for poor people. 

The privatisation of these funds, which constitutes a barrier to access to health care for unprotected workers in the informal non-agricultural sector, is estimated at 65% in Asia, 51% in Latin America, 48% in North Africa and peaks at 72% in sub-Saharan Africa.


These figures show the need to build a universal social protection system targeting workers in the informal economy in order to improve their living and working conditions. Helping small agricultural producers to move into the formal sector, without subjecting them to new direct taxes, also means building social protection for the benefit of all the world's workers.

For an effective social protection of small agricultural producers, several conditions must be met, namely: a strong political will, the existence of a rural sector organised in accordance with international standards and the implementation of accompanying measures (training, awareness-raising).