Social safety nets

ILO/Japan Fund for Building Social Safety Nets in Asia and the Pacific (SSN Fund)

The SSN Fund aims to broaden the use of social safety nets through a wide range of projects to extend existing social security systems, promote occupational safety and health (OSH), develop human resources, strengthen labour inspection, eliminate forced labour and foster entrepreneurship. The Fund also responds to natural disasters by implementing crisis response activities in the affected areas to support disaster recovery.

Background and rationale

Asian countries have experienced rapid economic growth in recent years, but persistent poverty and growing inequalities remain. Recent economic crises have revealed the need for adequate social safety nets to protect vulnerable populations from calamity. In response, a number of international organizations, including the ILO, took the initiative to promote social safety nets in Asian countries. Although differing in history, culture, religion and stage of development, many countries have made efforts to strengthen their social safety nets. However, we are still far from attaining the goal of providing adequate safety nets for all.

Keeping children out of work and in school
The establishment of social safety nets for vulnerable people have become more important than ever as the world globalizes. A crisis can spread rapidly and have a dramatic adverse impact on an entire regional economic system and labour market.

In addition, there are significant needs for appropriate and timely responses to natural disasters from the perspective of employment recovery, in which vulnerable people are the most affected, the least supported, and the last to rebuild their lives. Increasing rates of migration and a growing informal economy, as well as the need for women's empowerment are also key issues to work on.

Expected outcomes

The SSN Fund ultimately aims to build the fundamental capacity of countries in Asia Pacific to develop social safety nets. The following outcomes are expected from the programmes supported by the SSN Fund:
  •  Capacity building in governments and government research institutions
  •  Empowerment of trade unions and employers’ associations
  •  Networking among NGOs
  •  Implementation of occupational safety and health (OSH)
  •  Youth employment policy
  •   Prompt response to natural disasters


Former migrant worker from Myanmar
The target beneficiaries are workers, youth, migrant populations and women engaging in the labour market in Asia Pacific. The programmes also expect to bring development through partnership between ILO offices, social partners, and NGOs in the region. Practices will build capacity of government bodies, which is indispensable for implementing labour policies regarding the adoption of social safety nets and realization of decent work for all.

Project achievement

More than 70 projects have been selected. (List of projects with project web page)

Each of the 70 projects that has, is, or will be implemented follows a different approach, based on the specific nature and target. However, they share the common goal of creating and enhancing social security for workers. The achievements from the projects include:
  1. Support for worker organizations and NGOs working to support entrepreneurship and business development among poor, vulnerable, and marginalized people (Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR).
  2. Capacity building programmes on OSH enforcement for governments and social partners (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal and Viet Nam).
  3. Livelihoods rebuilding programmes following natural disasters (Japan, the Philippines, Nepal and Vanuatu).

For further information please contact:

Mr Jono Haruhiro
Programme and Operations Specialist

Countries Supported