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WB approves USD 600 mln for drought response scheme

WB approves USD 600 mln for drought response scheme

The World Bank (WB) last week approved a USD 600 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to support the government of Ethiopia’s vision of building a national safety net system to provide effective support in chronically food insecure rural areas.

The latest grant, which was approved on September 14, 2017 was also said to address critical issues, including providing cover during drought situations in eight regional states across Ethiopia.

The Rural Productive Safety Net Project (RPSNP) is intended to support the evolution of the government’s umbrella Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) that has been in operation for the last 12 years. The program has also been regarded as one of the world’s largest safety net programs.

Run by the government, PSNP pools money from 11 donors, including USD 600 million of World Bank Group IDA funds.

According to a statement issued by WB last week, PSNP provides regular cash or food transfers to eight million people, of whom half are in areas affected by the current drought. Its food-for-work component supports public works programs related to landscape restoration, irrigation and agro-forestry, the statement said.

“RPSNP will help Ethiopia to provide predictable safety net support to eight million chronically food insecure people in persistently food insecure rural areas,” the statement quoted Carolyn Turk, World Bank country director for Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan, as saying.

“The project sets a very good example of how in practice development and humanitarian efforts can be combined to better respond to the needs of the poor and most vulnerable,” Turk said.

The program has demonstrated that safety nets – when provided in a predictable, regular manner – can protect households from the negative impacts of shocks. Studies have shown that PSNP clients are more resilient to droughts and have the capacity to bounce back twice as fast as households outside of the program. Distress sale of assets, common during droughts, went down from 54 percent in 2010 to 26 percent in 2014. The public works component has added benefits for communities, for example, turning 1.2 million hectares into productive land with soil and water conservation activities. 

It was also noted that the program (RPSNP) helps the government shift from humanitarian response to a predictable safety net system. It integrates the PSNP into humanitarian food aid, which during the El Niño-induced drought of 2015/16 reached 10.2 million people, under a common operational framework to better manage the selection, administration and payment to beneficiaries. The project will thereby contribute to improving the equity, efficiency and transparency of the safety net system.

The WB further described the latest move of approving the financial grant (USD 600 million) as firmly aligned with the World Bank Group’s new Country Partnership Framework for Ethiopia and its twin goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. 

RPSNP is also expected to support the government to build a system for a national safety net program and is supporting implementation in eight regions, namely Afar, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harari, Oromia, Somali, Southern Regional State (SNNPR) and Tigray.

According to available information, in addition to the Ethiopian government’s and the World Bank Group’s contribution, the program would also be financially backed by 10 other partners, including the Canadian government, the Danish International Development Assistance, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the EU, the government of Ireland, the UK’s Department for International Development, UNICEF, USAID and WFP.