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PRESS RELEASEMarch 14, 2024

World Bank Strengthens Social Protection for the Vulnerable in Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica, 14 March, 2024 - The World Bank's Board of Directors today approved an investment project to expand coverage and improve the delivery of Jamaica’s social protection system, which is expected to benefit more than 290,000 people.

Jamaica was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Gross Domestic Product plummeting by 10 percent between 2019 and 2020. This was followed by widespread job losses and declines in labor earnings. Although employment indicators are showing signs of improvement, challenges persist in employment quality. Labor disparities for vulnerable groups, including women, youth, and persons with disabilities, also worsened during this time and, the impacts of rising food and fuel prices, along with climate-related events, were felt by many.

While Jamaica has established a well-developed social protection system in recent years, the system still faces challenges. The current National Insurance Scheme covers a broad range of risks, but does not include unemployment, leaving workers unprotected in the face of sudden job loss. The Jamaican social protection system also has limited capacity to connect job seekers with employment opportunities and has an outdated delivery system.

The World Bank’s Social Protection for Increased Resilience and Opportunity Project aims to address these issues through several interventions, including supporting the establishment and implementation of an unemployment insurance benefit to protect workers from job loss. This will serve as a safety net for workers and their families, especially during shocks. The project will also contribute to strengthening employment services by enhancing Jamaica’s Labor Market Information System, offering offline and online services -such as job counseling, job matching algorithms, video interviewing, and more - including for people with disabilities. The expanded service provision is expected to reach more job seekers across the country.  The project will further support the development of an integrated, interoperable and risk-informed social protection information system that will revolutionize the implementation of social assistance programs in Jamaica.

“We are committed to supporting Jamaica’s efforts to strengthen its social protection system. This new project will provide vital assistance to vulnerable workers and households in Jamaica, while also laying a foundation for a stronger, more effective, and shock-responsive social protection system for the future”, said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

Among those the project will benefit, over 155,000 will be women. Beneficiaries will include formal workers as well as vulnerable job seekers, such as informal workers, people with disabilities, women, and young people.

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In Kingston, Jamaica
Penny Bowen
+1 (876) 861-2468
In Washington
Yuri Szabo Yamashita
+1 (202) 948-5341


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