World Bank to hand TASAF 1trn/- boost

14Sep 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
World Bank to hand TASAF 1trn/- boost

THE World Bank yesterday approved USD450 million (over 1trn/- for the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) improved social safety nets which will benefit over five million people, mostly women.

A statement released yesterday by the World Bank said the amount was approved by the board of executive directors under the aegis of the International Development Association (IDA), the soft loan window of the global development bank.

The money will be used towards improving food consumption and livelihoods, while increasing children’s primary school attendance and completion aside from access to health care. T he financing will also improve secondary school participation, the statement indicated.

Bella Bird, the World Bank country director said that Tanzania’s earlier social safety net programme helped beneficiaries to save more money and obtain more assets. As a result, many had more food and access to better education and health care.

“Still, this new support will be critical to improve the lives of many more people in need and overall raise the country’s human capital index, which is still very low at 0.40,” she explained.

“We will continue to work with the government and engage with ordinary people and other stakeholders on the complex set of development issues facing the country and its people,” she stated.

Tanzania successfully piloted a conditional cash transfer programme in three districts from 2009 to 2012. It was eventually developed into a wide ranging social safety net, as a social action fund.

In 2012, the government began implementing the scaled-up first phase supported by IDA through the productive social safety net (PSSN I), which attained its target of reaching one million households by September 2015, well ahead of schedule.

PSSN I targeted over 10 percent of the country’s population, approximately 650,000 households living under the food poverty line as well as about 350,000 at-risk of falling under that line, because of a shock affecting their income.

The objective of this second productive social safety net project is to provide poor households with income-earning opportunities and socio-economic services, while enhancing and protecting the human capital of their children, the statement underlined.

This phase builds on the first phase achievements and will especially focus on productive and financial inclusion, through support services such as public works, savings groups, training and livelihood grants.

Participants in public works program are projected to increase from around 250,000 in 2019/20 to more than 830,000 in 2022/23, while the livelihood enhancement program will be scaled up from the current pilot stage to reach over 200,000 households by the end of the project time frame, it further noted.

Muderis Abdulahi, a senior social protection specialist and associate task team leader said that due to population growth, despite the reduction in the rate of extreme poverty, the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty increased between 2007 and 2018.

“Poor households face significant barriers in accessing existing livelihood opportunities and services and this second project will be placing a stronger focus to address and remove these barriers.”

Michele Zini, senior economist and team leader associate, said that PSSN II will support the Social Action Fund to enable many extremely poor households “not simply to temporarily move out of poverty, but to progressively build their asset base, human capital and resilience necessary to keep themselves out of poverty for the longer term.”

In addition to the newly approved IDA support, the overall PSSN program is being financed by the government and other development partners including the UK DFID, USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UN Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the International Fund for Agriculture Development, NORAD (Norway), SIDA (Sweden) and the OPEC Fund.

The IDA statement recalled that the World Bank has been engaged in a range of policy issues that led to a hold-up of financing since 2018 for important operations including those supporting Tanzania’s human development goals.

“Approval of this project acknowledges efforts by the government to address the policy issues by amending the Statistics Law (2018) in line with accepted international practice, as well as its commitment to facilitate all girls to complete their education,” it added.