By 2030, an estimated 574 million people—nearly 7 percent of the world’s population—are projected to live in extreme poverty. The increasing impacts of climate change, food insecurity, and conflict entrench poverty for the most vulnerable. As a result, many governments are seeking evidence-based strategies to tackle this landscape of competing priorities. Economic inclusion through its multifaceted approach offers a flexible solution that can facilitate access to sustainable livelihoods, promote women’s economic empowerment, and boost the resilience of households and communities to cope with shocks and climate change. However, despite their surge in recent years, the scaling up of these programs frequently faces fiscal and capacity constraints, necessitating ongoing technical and financial assistance.
Recently, there has been a global push to improve economic inclusion for the poorest, with the goal of achieving the SDGs, specifically ending poverty by 2030. PEI aims to support this objective by promoting the adoption and scale up of government-led economic inclusion programs through three areas of focus: country engagement, evidence and learning, and partnerships. PEI has provided $4.2 million in grants to 19 Bank country teams, influencing $1.7 billion in World Bank financing. Additionally, PEI leverages its extensive network of partners to offer on-demand technical support, transform country-specific lessons into public goods, and promote the generation of evidence on the impacts of government-led programs. In the context of unfolding crises, PEI will continue to support country clients in building resilience through economic inclusion programs and strategies.
PEI has supported numerous country teams in assisting governments to design or implement their economic inclusion programs and strategies. The following are some notable examples:
- In Zambia, the Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL) project has provided livelihood opportunities to about 96,000 poor and vulnerable women. In an effort to improve women’s access to better livelihood opportunities, the Government and Bank teams, in collaboration with PEI, are working to complement these economic inclusion activities by securing access to markets by connecting GEWEL participants to the Zambia Agribusiness and Trade Project.
- In Panama, the WB social protection team and PEI supported the Government in creating the Cohesión Social program through knowledge exchanges, initial diagnoses, and data collection support, which helped the program scale up to reach around 3,000 program participants within the Indigenous territories. The program, implemented in partnership with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) from mid-2019 through 2021, resulted in an increase in the productivity of participants. Participants adopted a higher number of good agricultural practices, planted larger areas, stocked more domestic animals, and had a more positive attitude towards risk. Commercialization also increased, and larger values of sales were reported.
- In Egypt, the Government has shown increasing interest in unlocking the productive potential of the poor. In response, the World Bank country team and PEI have supported the Ministry of Social Solidarity to launch an economic inclusion pilot FORSA (“Opportunity” in Arabic) which has already supported more than 35,000 direct beneficiaries out of a target of 50,000 beneficiaries, to transition into sustainable employment through a series of activities, including behavioral training, wage and self-employment facilitation, skills development, and coaching.
- In Bangladesh, the WB supported the Government in using economic inclusion programs as a part of its COVID-19 recovery efforts through the Recovery and Advancement of Informal Sector Employment (RAISE) project. In 2021, the PEI team worked with the country team providing technical inputs to support the design of a community network to deliver the economic inclusion activities (supporting 175,000 beneficiaries), including psychosocial support, with a special focus on women and on the exposure to climate hazards.
World Bank Contribution
PEI has provided $4.2 million in grant support to help design or implement a strategic portfolio of 20 national economic inclusion programs implemented in 19 countries, influencing a total of $1.7 billion in Word Bank financing. PEI estimates that the entire portfolio of World Bank economic inclusion programs consists of 276 programs financed by about $19.3 billion (as of Jan 2023).
Funding partners of the PEI Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) are Co-Impact, BRAC, Irish Aid, and the German Development Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH), commissioned by and on behalf and for the account of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
PEI’s Technical partners include: The BOMA Project, CARE, Concern Worldwide, FAO, Fundación Capital, Ideas42, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), Results, Trickle Up, UNHCR, Village Enterprise, and World Vision.
PEI is committed to continuing its support for the adoption and scale-up of government-led economic inclusion programs to address the pressing needs of reducing extreme poverty, enhancing women’s economic empowerment, and building resilience to shocks and climate change. Moving forward, PEI will intensify its efforts to understand and disseminate information on how governments build sustainable solutions for individuals living in extreme poverty. This includes learning how programs are tailored to align with local contexts and understanding the strategies governments can employ to expand these programs to meet the growing challenge of increasing numbers of people living in extreme poverty.