Basic services and better incomes for poor and vulnerable households
WASHINGTON, May 17, 2013 – A US$30 million project will increase access to basic services for poor and vulnerable people in Lebanon and support opportunities to help them generate better incomes. The Social Protection and Promotion Project approved by the World Bank Board of Directors today will expand the coverage of Lebanon’s National Poverty Targeting Program from 93,900 to 160,700 people over the next five years.
The project is designed to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Social Affairs at central and local levels so that its 200 social development centers can provide improved and relevant services. This involves the establishment of a national Community Social Development program that is transparent, efficient and accountable to its users. The program will provide grant finance to small community-based projects which can deliver social services and help people boost their income with enhanced skills and material support. The project will also expand the coverage of the existing National Poverty Targeting Program and improve its efficiency. The NPTP provides a basket of benefits including partial medical bill payment, school fee waiver and free books, and discounts on electricity bills.
“Reforming social safety nets and tackling poverty has been a priority for the government in Lebanon for several years now,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Country Director for the Mashreq Department. “Transparent, participatory and well-targeted social safety nets in which communities have a voice and can build opportunities for themselves are key to addressing poverty and regional disparities.”
While Lebanon’s poverty rates are comparable to those of other middle-income countries, poverty remains significant and regional disparities in living conditions are acute. Compounding this situation is the dearth of community development and social safety net initiatives. The project will support livelihoods of poor and vulnerable populations, promote their inclusion in society, and enhance their resilience to shocks.
“The World Bank’s engagement on the community development front in Lebanon started in 2000,” said Haneen Sayed, Project Leader and World Bank Human Development Coordinator for Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. “The Program will draw on this decade-long engagement and lessons learned from other community development experiences in Lebanon and around the world.” Lebanon’s vibrant civil society organizations will have an opportunity to improve their capacity to propose, prepare, and implement income-generating projects and social services, added Sayed.
The Social Protection and Promotion Project is in line with the goals of the World Bank Group’s Lebanon Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2011-2014, which places improvement of living standards and regional equity at its core with local development as one of the important ways to reduce regional imbalances. The CPS gives priority to the development of Lebanon’s weak and fragmented social safety net system so that it reaches poor people more efficiently and accurately. The project supports the Ministry of Social Affairs’ National Social Development Strategy, developed in 2011 through a broad-based and nationwide consultative process.