WASHINGTON, December 18, 2013 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved new financing to help cushion over four million poor Malawians from sudden losses of income by providing work opportunities, cash transfers, and grants to raise household incomes.
The US$32.8 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA*) is for the Strengthening Safety Net Systems Project - 4th Malawi Social Action Fund (MASAF IV) which aims to strengthen Malawi’s social safety net delivery systems and coordination across programs. The fund has already provided work opportunities for about 1.6 million people, helping them to earn wages and achieve greater food security.
“In Malawi, more than half the people live below the poverty line. The World Bank is continuing to reach out to them through productive safety nets that help them to improve their livelihoods,” says Ms. Laura Kullenberg, Country Manager for Malawi. In addition to addressing household poverty and creating community assets, Kullenberg says MASAF IV will strengthen the Government’s capacity to respond to vulnerability and crisis through more coordinated and harmonized programs.
MASAF IV has three components, namely, productive safety nets, systems and capacity building, and project management—of which the productive safety nets component is the largest. Communities will drive two cycles of public works employment a year, enabling targeted poor households to earn an income while creating assets for their communities. Grants will also be provided through Community Savings and Investment Promotion Groups to help households strengthen their livelihoods and skills. Social cash transfers will be targeted to the most vulnerable and labor-constrained households.
Malawi’s Minister of Finance Dr. Maxwell Mkwezalamba hails the timeliness and functionality of the project. “This financing is very critical as Government needs it to meet immediate requirements to protect the poor and vulnerable from January to June 2014,” he said. Mkwezalamba also said Government requested the support at this time to also “facilitate a seamless connection from our already effective social protection programs in MASAF III to IV without hurting the poor.”
The World Bank’s Team Leader for MASAF IV, Ms. Maniza Naqvi said that good targeting will ensure that the program reaches the right households. “MASAF IV will strengthen, coordinate, and harmonize the establishment of a system for unified registries and the targeting of the poorest and most vulnerable in the country,” she said.
MASAF IV will be implemented by the Local Development Fund Technical Support Team. Governance and anti-corruption measures already support the sub-national financial management system used by MASAF, which is different from the national system. These measures will be further strengthened in MASAF IV to include social accountability mechanisms which ensure that service providers are held accountable for delivering the program to the most vulnerable and foster greater transparency. The project is expected to close in June 2018.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.