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PRESS RELEASE

More than Half a Million Jamaicans to Find a PATH to New Opportunities

January 24, 2014

Additional World Bank funds to improve effectiveness of Jamaica’s largest safety net

Washington, January 24, 2014 –The World Bank’s Board of Directors approved today US$40 million in additional funding to strengthen Jamaica’s largest safety net program, already reaching more than 400,000 vulnerable people. The funding will enhance the effectiveness of the Program of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) and expand its reach to more than half a million poor Jamaicans.

Similar to other successful Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) in Colombia and Mexico, a recent evaluation found that PATH has increased school attendance and improved vaccination rate amongst the most vulnerable population.

“The Government of Jamaica continues to implement the reforms of Social Protection Systems to alleviate poverty. This new support from the World Bank will enable the Government to build resilience, equity and promote active labor market interventions”, said Dunstan Bryan, Project Director at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

In Jamaica, the young and the elderly in rural areas are amongst the poorest. While poor children are typically enrolled in school, their attendance can be erratic. Lack of money often prevents poor families from sending their children to school and accessing healthcare.

Growing unemployment is the other scourge that affects more than 50 percent of young people, including 38 percent of young women. To help tackle unemployment among PATH beneficiaries, a complementary scheme -- Steps to Work -- helps young people to find a job through job readiness, skills and entrepreneurial trainings.

"The additional funding will not only help increase the reach of the program, but also ensure a more effective delivery of social assistance to those most in need,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank country director for the Caribbean. “What is innovative about this social protection package is that it focuses on helping families graduate from the CCT program by increasing their skills and improving their employability.

Among concrete results to be achieved by the additional funding are:

  • More than 1 in 5 Jamaicans – including nearly two thirds of the poorest children - will benefit from PATH’s conditional cash transfer program by 2017.
  • One thousand young people will graduate from the job readiness and skill training.
  • Eighty percent of families enrolled in the program will receive complementary services such as entrepreneurship and skills trainings to help them become self-reliant.

The Jamaica experience already inspired other CCT programs in the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada and St Lucia. CCTs have become a vital part of poverty reduction strategies in many countries, particularly in Latin America.

This additional financing is aligned with the forthcoming World Bank Country Partnership strategy for Jamaica. It also complements the Integrated Social protection and Labor program financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

This loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to Jamaica, has a final maturity of 29.5 years, with a 6 year grace period. 

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PRESS RELEASE NO:
2014/306/LAC