In Tajikistan: Better Systems Mean Better Help
June 4, 2014
- The Grant for Targeting and Payment of Social Assistance helped the government of Tajikistan in building the new system of targeted social assistance. Using this system, the government aims to reduce extreme poverty.
- With support from the World Bank, Tajikistan is working to target its social assistance to better reach the poorest 20 percent of the population.
- The social assistance program is now operational in ten pilot districts. Officials hope to take it nation-wide.
In the dry and dusty regions of Khatlon, Tajikistan, not too far from the Afghan border, Umeda Rasulova lives with her four kids and a husband who is lucky to get occasional work. There is not very much water, she owns no farm animals, and has no vegetable garden. She relies on money from the government to buy life-saving necessities. “We have no water and firewood. So this money is for electricity, which we cook with, and for food.”
Her next-door neighbor, Qurbongul Sherova, who has five kids, has been on public assistance for two years. She is a housewife and her husband has steady work, but doesn’t bring home enough money to keep the family afloat. “We receive 100-200 somoni each year and it helps us improve our life and improve the condition of this house. Without the assistance, we wouldn’t have doors or windows on the house.”
We have no water and firewood. So this money is for electricity, which we cook with, and for food.
Overhauling the System
With support from the World Bank, Tajikistan is working to target its social assistance to better reach the poorest 20 percent of the population. The new system is easier and faster to use, and people can apply any time, instead of only once a year. The selection mechanism is based on a new system, which automatically identifies poor families.
“Most important is that more money is getting to families. It used to be the local officials who figured out who needed help, and that was sometimes tricky, now it is all done by formulas on a computer,” explains Juraev Nabijon, who works for the government’s Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. Nabijon says the old system was full of holes and sometimes subject to abuses; not everybody who needed assistance got it.
Using this targeted system, the government aims to reduce extreme poverty. The social assistance program started in two districts and is now operational in 10; officials hope to take it nation-wide by 2016.
We receive 100-200 somoni each year and it helps us improve our life and improve the condition of this house. Without the assistance, we wouldn’t have doors or windows on the house.
“This assistance really helps people buy food but it doesn’t solve the problem of poverty, it only eases it,” says Karimov Jamshed, who works as a consultant, Rapid Social Response Facility Trust Fund under the World Bank project on Targeting and Payment of Social Assistance. “The government needs to raise the amount of aid in order to help poor people more.”
Some officials say the assistance, which amounts to 400 Tajik somoni in aid a year, or about US$82 dollars, doesn’t go far enough. But for the Rasulova and Sherova families living in this remote, dry part of the country, even limited assistance is better than none at all and sometimes means the difference between eating and not eating, as well as getting heat during the long hard winters.
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