DUSHANBE, June 19, 2020 – Up to 50,000 low-income families with young children in Tajikistan will receive a one-time payment of 500 Tajik somoni as emergency social assistance. These payments are provided as part of the World Bank-financed Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 Project (TEC-19), which is supporting Tajikistan’s efforts in responding to the health and social risks associated with the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“To protect the health and nutrition of the youngest and most disadvantaged children, cash transfers have proven an efficient instrument of help to parents,” said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan. “The World Bank is committed to supporting Tajikistan in being able to provide immediate and effective crisis response to the pandemic and help to reduce the socio-economic impacts on households.”
The emergency cash transfer targets low-income families with children under the age of three enrolled in the Targeted Social Assistance (TSA) system, who will be eligible to receive a one-time cash transfer of 500 Tajik somoni per family. The first stage will cover 17,000 families in 40 districts of the country, currently covered by the new TSA system. As the TSA coverage expands to cover all districts of Tajikistan starting July 1, 2020, all new households enrolled in the TSA program with children under the age of three will be eligible to receive the one-time assistance. In total, around 50,000 families will receive these cash benefits over the next six months. The cash transfers will help to counter increased risks of under-nutrition among young children during the crisis and offset the potential negative impact of the pandemic.
“Children under the age of three are most vulnerable to the negative consequences of malnutrition - not eating enough food, or not having a sufficient quality and variety in their diets,” said Jakub Kakietek, Technical Team Lead of the TEC-19 project. “Malnutrition negatively affects children’s physical and cognitive growth, and their chances to succeed later in life. Therefore, it is critical to target assistance to children in that age group in vulnerable families.”
In addition to financial assistance, the beneficiaries of the cash transfers will receive important information on how to protect their young children at a crucial time for their growth and development through proper nutrition, hygiene, early childhood stimulation, and creating healthy, safe, and secure home environments even during the hardships of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The cash transfers will be administered by the State Agency of Social Protection in close collaboration with Oblast and district level social protection departments. UNICEF is providing technical assistance in developing communication materials and strategies related to child nutrition, health, and development.
The Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 Project is financed through a grant of US$11.3 million from the International Development Association. The project is supporting response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Tajikistan through 1) upgrading medical facilities and equipment; 2) helping communities to reduce infection through information outreach and communication and 3) protecting the vulnerable through cash transfers and information support.