WASHINGTON, March 29, 2012 –Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), which has a seven-year track record of improving food security for poor people and increasing their resilience in the face of economic and climate-related crises, is to receive additional funding from the World Bank.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved an additional credit of US$370 million for the program, which now reaches about 7.6 million chronically food-insecure people or 8 percent of Ethiopia’s population, and is set to cover 8.3 million people by 2015. This funding includes US$70 million in crisis response resources intended to help address the consequences of drought in the Horn of Africa.
“The Productive Safety Net Program has arrested and reversed a 15-year trend of deteriorating food security and assets in many rural areas,” said Guang Z. Chen, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia. “In addition to cushioning vulnerable rural households during crises such as the recent drought in the Horn of Africa, PSNP equips them with productive assets based on which they can develop a more sustainable livelihood. It also provides poor households with increased access to vital health and education services.”
Serving 319 woredas (districts) in Ethiopia’s Afar, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harare, Oromiya, Somali, Southern Nations and Nationalities (SNNP) and Tigray Regions, the program works by paying the poorest and most vulnerable people for working on public works projects for six months a year, and by giving direct grants to those who are unable to work, and to pregnant or breastfeeding women. Besides continuing these activities, the program will now enable households to build more assets, and to improve their access to financial services.
It has registered strong results, improving food security by an average of 32 days for households participating in public works projects and enabling them to increase their livestock significantly, by an average of 10 sheep or goats per family. Importantly, the 40,000 public works projects undertaken every year have helped address the root causes of food insecurity by rehabilitating degraded land and creating productive community assets such as terraced fields, feeder roads, and small-scale irrigation systems.
Launched in 2005, the PSNP is now in its third phase of implementation with a total budget of approximately US$2.3 billion from 10 development partners: the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Irish Aid, the European Union (EU), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Netherlands, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Food Program and the World Bank.
“Putting in place an effective social safety net program has helped Ethiopia to move beyond emergency food aid to a more effective development-oriented response that can be scaled up in times of hardship,” said Wolter Soer, the program’s Task Team Leader based in Addis Ababa. “The more steady and reliable the transfer of resources to the household level, the greater the impact of the safety net.”
World Bank support to social protection in Africa has been growing both during and after the recent food, fuel, and economic crises. By the end of this year, safety net assessments will have been completed in 20 African countries. In many countries, governments are already using these assessments to help design and establish national safety net programs. World Bank lending commitments for social protection in Africa have grown from an average of US$260 million a year during fiscal years 2001-05 to an average of US$600 million a year in fiscal years 2006-2010. Commitments in fiscal year 2012 stand at nearly US$700 million.