In 1999, the UN ESCAP secretariat implemented a project aimed at strengthening policies and programmes on social safety nets in the region, through case studies of the countries severely affected by the 1997 Asian economic crisis and regional seminars, including the development of conceptualization and planning, to help find ways for strengthening social safety nets. As a first step, country studies on social safety nets were conducted in four countries: Indonesia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Thailand. The study of their experience aims at finding better ways for weathering shocks in the future. As a follow-up, ESCAP convened a regional seminar to discuss this experience and derive lessons from it, so that all countries in the region could learn from their endeavours, successes and failures. More importantly, the Seminar developed a set of recommendations on measures to strengthen policies and programmes on social safety nets. The studies and recommendations are expected to provide inspiration and stimulus to all the member countries of ESCAP, and not just to those who were grievously affected by the crisis, to establish safety nets for the protection of their people from the devastation of any crisis that might strike in the years ahead.
This publication is of made up six parts. Parts One to Four discuss the country studies of the Philippines, Thailand, Republic of Korea, and Indonesia. In Part Five, an integrated study is presented based on the findings of the previous parts and the data compiled in the country studies, along with a discussion of policy considerations and recommendations. The final part, Part Six, presents the recommendations adopted by the Regional Seminar on Strengthening Policies and Programmes on Social Safety Nets (Bangkok, 22-24 May 2001), as well as its report.