WASHINGTON, June 17, 2010 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a grant from the International Development Association (IDA), in the amount of $ 10 million, to develop and implement a new poverty-based targeting policy and strengthen Yemen’s Social Welfare Fund’s (SWF) administration and management of its Cash Transfer program, which reaches almost 1 million poor and vulnerable Yemeni households.
Afrah Alawi Al-Ahmadi, Senior Human Development Specialist at the World Bank said “The Social Welfare Fund is in a unique position to provide much-needed assistance during periods of crisis.” Adding “ More generally, cash transfers can prevent low-income households from resorting to extreme measures (such as withdrawal of children from school, increased use of child labor, or sale of productive assets) in order to cope with price and income shocks.”
Over the years, the SWF cash transfer program had suffered from a combination of low benefits and poor targeting, resulting in low coverage of the poor as well as little impact on overall poverty. The Government has authorized a program of fundamental reforms to SWF, including improved targeting of the poor, strengthening the agency’s service delivery and case management capacity, and implementing a new legal and policy framework.
In addition, the SWF is mandated to develop and deliver a Beneficiary Development Program (BDP) to support its beneficiaries gain skills and economic opportunities to eventually graduate from the cash assistance program. The Bank has the comparative advantage to support the BDP given its involvement in many related sectors in Yemen, vocational training, rural development and small and micro enterprise development (SMED). The Bank can support and facilitated building the linkages between SWF and different programs delivering skills and SMED services.
This new Social Welfare Fund Institutional Support Project is aligned to the 2010 – 2013 Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Yemen which included the goal of helping design a strategy for subsidy and social protection reform and strengthen the necessary capacity for implementation.
The project also responds to recommendations in the 2008 National Social Protection Strategy supported by IDA, as well as IDA’s recommendations from the Technical Assistance work in support of the SWF administration, delivered during FY09. It also builds on existing partnerships in the social protection sector with the EC, World Food program (WFP) and DFID.