chapter  8
20 Pages

Democratising social welfare in Africa


This chapter explores the main historical and contemporary trajectories of social welfare policy in Africa, a continent where vulnerabilities and needs for social assistance have consistently exceeded provision, often by orders of magnitude. Across the world, social policy is seen as a residual component of public policy, an add-on after macroeconomic policy and investment in ‘productive’ sectors, ameliorating the unequalising effects of capitalism. In sub-Saharan Africa, social welfare has been equated for decades in the popular imagination with humanitarian relief, delivered by western donors in the form of emergency food aid. This is, however, overly simplistic and ahistorical.