WASHINGTON, April 23, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved support for Burkina Faso to cut poverty and hunger by laying the foundation of a national safety net system. The new credit will provide the initial investment in a cash transfer program which can be scaled up nationwide and eventually reach a large share of the country’s poor people.
Under the 5-year, US$50 million Burkina Faso Social Safety Net Project supported by IDA*, the World Bank Group’s Fund for the poorest countries, about 40,000 poor households will benefit from direct cash transfers. Also community-level activities will encourage these households to invest in their children’s development and nutrition, as well as in their own productivity.
Despite strong economic growth, nearly 47 percent of Burkina Faso’s rapidly growing population still lives in poverty and 58 percent cannot meet basic caloric needs. The project is designed help the country to work towards more inclusive economic development that does not leave poor people behind.
An important element of any national safety net system is the methodical targeting of households that are most in need. In Burkina, this will begin with cash transfers in regions with the highest rates of chronic poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity. With an average of nearly eight members in a rural household, about 316,000 people will directly benefit from the project in the East, North, and Center-East regions.
“By setting up a strong safety net system, Burkina Faso is going beyond expensive food aid and aiming to reduce poverty and malnutrition in a more sustained way, while also giving poor families a chance to invest in their children’s health and education,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Manager for Burkina Faso. “Once the government has identified and registered the most vulnerable households, support can be systematically scaled up as needed during emergencies.”
Social protection is a key pillar of Burkina Faso’s development strategy (Stratégie de Croissance Accélérée et de Développement Durable) for 2011-2015. In addition, the National Social Protection Strategy (Politique Nationale de la Protection Sociale) outlines the country’s vision for a national safety net system.
“Burkina Faso’s new safety net system will help to use limited public resources to reach the poorest groups of people in as efficient a way as possible,” said Azedine Ouerghi, World Bank task team leader for the project, along with Victoria Monchuk. “Systematic planning for long-term poverty reduction and household resilience, and efficient management of the safety net system is a critical step forward.”
“Safety nets are on the rise in Africa, especially after the global economic crisis, as governments have been looking for new ways to reduce poverty and manage risk,” said Monchuk, also author of a World Bank report, “Reducing Poverty and Investing in People: The New Role of Safety Nets in Africa”.
*The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 82 poorest countries, 40 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.