This study examined the role of networks and reciprocated assistance in curtailing the risk arising from an absence of centralised social protection programmes. Given how non-state interventions constitute a key part of the endogenous networks to social risk reduction, we also explored how the knowledge of exogenous emergency relief is localised and utilised. In examining these issues, in-depth interviews were done with a purposively selected sample of informal workers, their representative associations, and development partners. Amongst other factors, the findings showed that (i) informal mutual assistance networks are more adaptive, responsive, and inclusive and thus more preferred over exogenous relief — with complementarity between the two being low (ii) ex-post bereavement mutual assistance networks have stronger ties with a more versatile, knowledge sharing–centred utility that transcends the circulation/sharing of cash, food, and credit. The findings contribute to the scholarship on social welfare rights and networks in the context of reciprocated assistance and emergency relief.