SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

From Practice to Policy for COVID Response: Book Launch of 'Social Protection - Lands of Blossoming Hope'


Date: 17 December 2020Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 17 December 2020Time: 3:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Virtual Webinar

Book here


This webinar brings together practitioners and thinkers to discuss the book Social Protection: Lands of Blossoming Hope, with author Usha Mishra Hayes, talking about linking practice to policy, and drawing specifically on the implications for the United Nations' work on policy and programmes. 

Against the backdrop of the COVID and UN’s WFP being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Social Protection: Lands of Blossoming Hope, a book by long term career UN diplomat is of topical relevance, provide a sneak peek into the workings of organizations that have rightly, through rather belatedly been recognized for promoting world peace.  The book is rather unusual in many ways. First, it is a take full of hope, a rare perspective in today’s world full of grim news, with increasing apathy and frustration. It presents the possibility of national reform by the UN. Second, it provides an intimate insight into an otherwise rather obtuse world of workings of the UN in general and the works of policy influencing.

The book recounts the workings of the governments and their interface with the UN with a breathtaking sweep -- from the tropical plains of Bangladesh to the ocean flanked scenic Tanzania. From the stable, upcoming Cambodia to the fragile, exploding Afghanistan.  These  countries come to life, with stories of how the governments consider bringing  in a policy to deal with problems of street children as in Ethiopia or when elections are used as an opportunity for creating some positive news for the government while achieving important policy reforms/ advance on long-lagging issues as in Tanzania. Important alliances get formed among the World Bank, UNDP and UNICEF in a casual meeting by the residents’ swimming pool as in Cambodia and high-ranking secretaries break into an open verbal warning, aiming to draw in UN officials, as in Afghanistan. Arriving at decisions regarding scope and design of programmes for the poorest often are made at UN offices, using extremely sophisticated analysis and planning tools. It also makes us wonder as to how much of policymaking in the developing countries is inspired by the good Samaritans within the UN.

IMG: Author Usha

About the Author

Usha Mishra Hayes, Chief Social Policy, Evidence and Evaluation, UNICEF Nepal has 18 years of experience in international development in senior management, policy analysis, research and advocacy gained with the UN, DFID, Oxfam GB and the Government of India. She worked as Chief of Social Policy with UNICEF (Cambodia, Tanzania, Afghanistan and Nepal), supporting ministers and top civil servants in reforming and strengthening national delivery systems in Asia and Africa. Awarded by the government of Cambodia for her work on social protection in ASEAN.

Chairs and Discussants: Dr Sanjukta Ghosh (SOAS South Asia Institute) and Hossain Zillur Rahman (Chair of the Governing Body of BRAC Bangladesh)


  • Lands of Blossoming Hope -- Key Takeaways by Dr Pedro Aruda (Senior Researcher, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth)
  • Lessons for the current crisis by Dr Abdul Alim, Regional Adviser, Social Policy, UNICEF Office for South Asia
  • Importance of child lens within the public policy to address COVID by Preksha Golcha and Michael Samson (Managing Director, Economic Policy Research Institute).
  • How Evidence can be a game-changer sharing national response- lessons from the book by Dr Subir Sinha (Senior Lecturer, SOAS)
  • Author and Discussant Remarks followed by Q&A


Socialprotection Webpage registration 

Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute in partnership with UNICEF (South Asia), BRAC (Bangladesh), Economic Policy Research Institute (South Africa), Network Capital and Social Protection.Org

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