The World Bank-funded social safety net project expected to benefit some 1 million people in Tajikistan

June 16, 2011

The new project will enable the capacity building of the respective government ministries and the reform of the social assistance system

DUSHANBE, June 16, 2011 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved the Tajikistan Social Safety Net Strengthening Project for a total amount of USD 3.2 million. The overall development objective of the project is to improve the capacity of the Government of Tajikistan to plan, monitor, and manage social assistance for the poor through the development of a national registry of social protection and the provision of training, equipment and related items for improving this capacity.

At present, the Government of Tajikistan addresses poverty, in part, through two main social assistance programs. The largest program is for electricity and gas compensation, and the second largest is for needy families whose children attend school. There is also a small program for resettled people, and some other small-scale programs. However, the social assistance programs exert almost no downward influence on poverty rates. This is the conclusion reached in the World Bank’s report titled “Tajikistan: Delivering Social Assistance to the Poorest Households”, which forms the analytical basis for this project. The report estimates that the social assistance programs lower the poverty rate by only 0.3 percentage point.

Therefore, the project will serve the public and the poor by supporting delivery of social assistance to the poorest households. This would help offset some of the worst consequences of poverty and could contribute to addressing the impact of shocks, such as financial crises and droughts. Moreover, the project would also benefit the broader public by supporting mechanisms designed to improve targeting and reduce waste in the use of scarce public funds for social assistance. Importantly, it would promote accountability to the public by opening channels for complaints of abuses and for appeals of social assistance decisions.

"This project is expected to benefit approximately 15 percent of the poorest people in Tajikistan, amounting to about 1 million people, who would receive social assistance benefits following the reform and roll out of the registry,” said Ms. Marsha Olive, the World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan.

The project consists of three components:

Component 1: National Registry for Social Protection, amounting to USD 1.4 million, is expected to establish a National Registry for Social Protection. This would help the Government to apply a proxy-means test to identify the poorest households eligible for receipt of social assistance. It would also help the Government to manage, monitor, and oversee payments of social assistance. Moreover, it would provide a registry platform that could eventually be used by other social protection programs. This component would supply goods, including computer equipment, printers, scanners, and electrical, telephone and internet connections, to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to implement a nation-wide system of poverty-targeted social assistance;

Component 2: Capacity Building, amounting to USD 1.2 million, would train government personnel at the central and local levels to implement and use the national registry. It would also build the capacity of the Government to use the registry to control and audit payments of social assistance. Finally, it would support a small unit of local consultants in the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to help plan for the national reform of social assistance;

Component 3: Project Management, amounting to USD 0.3 million, will provide for project management and coordination and for carrying out fiduciary tasks, including procurement, financial reporting and accounting activities, audit, and other reporting for the project.

This project is a continuation of ongoing efforts as the reforms of the social safety net, which have already begun: the European Union is helping the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection to pilot the reform of social assistance in two districts: Yavan and Istravshan. The pilot consolidates the two largest social assistance programs into a single benefit, and uses a proxy-means test to target benefits to the poorest 20 percent of the population. The World Bank has also mobilized a grant from the Rapid Social Response (RSR) Multi-Donor Trust Fund to support the implementation and evaluation of the pilot.

The project approved by the Board of Executive directors today, which is funded by the International Development Association, is expected to support extension of these reforms by supporting the development of core tools and capacity for rolling them out at the national level.

The active portfolio of the World Bank in Tajikistan currently consists of 16 projects with net commitment of US$ 223 million. The largest share of ongoing portfolio is in agriculture and rural development (31 percent), followed by energy (23 percent), water (17 percent), education (15 percent), health (8 percent), and economic policy and public sector (6 percent).

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