Responses to COVID-19 in rural LAC and recommendations to "build back better"

Start Date: Status: Ongoing


The project aims to analyse social protection policies implemented by governments in LAC in response to Covid-19 and produce policy recommendations to "build back better" after the crisis.


FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (FAO RLC)


Latin America and the Caribbean

Brazil , Dominican Republic , Peru , Belize , Panama , Mexico , Argentina

Main Pillar

Knowledge Production

Thematic Area

Social Protection

Other Thematic Areas

Poverty Reduction Policies , Technological Innovation

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 1 - No Poverty , SDG 2 - Zero Hunger

Project Results

Policy Brief 1: Social protection response to COVID-19 in rural LAC: Social and economic double inclusion 

The four case studies (Argentina, Belize, Mexico, and Panama) relied on pre-existing shock-response mechanisms or social protection programmes, used existing registries, and received support from farmers’ or fisher’s associations and other non-state actors. This helped to build the basis for coordination between social protection and agriculture. However, the programmes faced challenges such as simultaneous climate-related shocks, barriers to social protection due to informality or data access, or lack of access to digital technology or resources necessary for implementation or benefit delivery.
How can we build back better? 
•    Better articulate social protection with the agriculture sector. This includes strengthening national social registries and their synergies with productive registries.
•    Enhance programmes’ potential for rural double inclusion by providing different type of benefits withing the same programme and including ministries of agriculture in the implementation of social protection programmes and vice-versa.
•    Adapt current social protection systems to rural realities, considering the legal, financial, administrative and institutional access barriers in their design, with a gender and intercultural approach. 

Policy Brief 2: Social protection response to COVID-19 in rural LAC: Protection and promotion of employment in the agricultural sector 

The analysed good practices include programmes that underwent minor adaptations during the pandemic. Nonetheless, they may offer valuable lessons for the design and implementation of LM and SI interventions adapted to rural populations’ specific needs and vulnerabilities: Brazil’s Garantia Safra (GS), from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply; Mexico’s Sembrando Vida (SV), from the Secretariat of Welfare; and Peru’s Proyecto Noa Jayatai-Mujer Indígena (NJMI), from the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion.  

How can we build back better? 

- Address legislative, administrative, and financial barriers to contributory schemes: reforming labour legislation, facilitating registration and contribution payment, and subsidising insurance schemes. 

- Involve unions and rural worker and indigenous associations in programme design and implementation. Community members familiar with the local languages and culture can contribute to this. 

- Use LM schemes that incentivise agroforestry production models to prevent and mitigate the environmental degradation and global climate crisis impacts. 

- Build smallholders’ capacity to prevent environmental shocks impacts in their production, offering skills training and preventive agricultural practices tailored to local environments and cultures. 


Policy Brief 3: Social protection response to COVID-19 in rural LAC: Digitalisation’s Potential for Building Back Better

Programmes that digitalised prior to the pandemic had an important role in the pandemic response by allowing adaptations to keep service delivery such as Brazil’s Food Acquisition Programme (PAA in Portuguese), to expand horizontal coverage in rural areas such as Peru’s Bono Rural, or adding new components for building back better, such as Supérate that grew out of Dominican Republic’s Quédate en Casa and PROSOLI. Therefore, these programmes were analysed as LAC’s good practices.  

How to build back better?  

  • Use digitalisation to facilitate practical implementation of social protection by increasing mobile payment opportunities, providing electronic payment cards, digitalising information management systems, and unifying online registries.  

  • Facilitate productive inclusion by reducing bureaucratic hurdles of banking access and communication, closing digital infrastructure gaps, and establishing eCommerce platforms.  

  • Promote digitalisation in rural areas by increasing access to digital services or adapting current instruments, considering offline tools, using social media to disseminate information and, training rural populations in digital literacy to enable communities to access technology independently.