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Launch of the Social Safety Net Strengthening Project Sets the Stage for Fundamental Social Assistance Reforms

December 2, 2011

The project is aimed at implementing the National Registry for Social Protection and capacity building of the respective government agencies

DUSHANBE, December 2, 2011 – Ongoing social protection system reforms and improved targeting of social assistance to the poor have been discussed today at the launch of the World Bank-funded Social Safety Net Strengthening Project for a total amount of USD 3.2 million. The project launch was co-hosted by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Tajikistan and the World Bank.

The project aims 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. The Project will support adoption of a mechanism for poverty-targeting to increase the percentage of the poorest households who receive social assistance and to decrease leakages of social assistance to middle and upper-income households.

“The financial crisis of two years ago, which caused a decline in remittances and household incomes, has shown how important it is to provide timely and effective social protection to the population of the country. Therefore, this initiative would help strengthen the state’s capacity in meeting the needs of the poorest portion of the population in a more effective and focused manner, especially in the times of distress,” said Marsha Olive, the World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan, during her opening remarks.

In turn, Mr. Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov, the Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Tajikistan,  shared his impressions of the ongoing reforms in the social safety sector of the country: “In comparison to a decade ago, the social sector has experienced notable improvements, however much more remains to be done. Currently, consolidation of efforts by the donor community and the relevant state agencies in ensuring effective social protection provision is a good example of ongoing strides in the sector, which promises quite productive outcomes in the future.”

The project, together with a US$2 million Rapid Social Response grant, will apply the results of successful pilots of poverty-targeted social assistance supported by the European Union in Yavan and Istravshan. “The EC is working on several projects in the areas of social services and human development, such as the recent financial agreement with the Government of Tajikistan for 7.5 million EUR in technical assistance in health services and social protection and 18 million EUR in budget support for pensions, as well as small grants for NGOs to monitor social policy reforms and aid in capacity building,” said Mr. Mic Ovidiu, Head of Operations Sections of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan, while sharing the experience of EU’s involvement in the sector and expectations for the future.

The Social Safety Net Strengthening Project consists of three components. The first component is establishment of the National Registry for Social Protection to help the Government use the latest measurement methodologies to indentify the poorest households eligible for the receipt of social assistance. The next component would train the respective government personnel, both on local and central levels, to implement and use the newly established national registry. The final component would support project management and coordination activities, so as to ensure its proper implementation and delivery.

Once completed, the project is expected to benefit some 1 million people in Tajikistan 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 is also expected to 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.

Media Contacts
In Washington
Elena Karaban
Tel : (202) 473 9277
In Dushanbe
Dilya Zoirova
Tel : (992 48) 701 5800