The FINANCIAL — The World Bank and the Government of Sudan on February 11 signed the grant agreement launching the Sudan Social Safety Net Project. By supporting reforms to improve the targeting and management of Sudan’s existing social protection/cash transfer systems, the Project intends to help cushion the negative effects of fiscal reforms on poor and vulnerable households.
Valued at $3.5 million, the Social Safety Net Project is supported by the World Bank-managed Sudan Multi-Partner Fund (SMPF), which receives support from Britain’s Department for International Development and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sudan. The Project will work to strengthen the Government’s technical capacity to improve the targeting and implementation of its cash transfer program, currently covering 500,000 households across the country, or approximately 20 percent of Sudan’s poor, according to the World Bank.
“The Ministry of Welfare and Social Security has been exerting great efforts to enable Sudan’s more fragile households to weather the impacts of economic reforms”, said Masha’ir Al-Daolab, Sudan’s Minister of Welfare and Social Security. “We believe that the technical assistance we are set to receive from the World Bank under this project will help us develop the capacity we need to boost our efforts to alleviate poverty”.
In 2011, Sudan began implementing a series of austerity measures, including gradual cuts on fuel subsidies, in order to cover the budget deficit that resulted from the secession of South Sudan and the attendant loss of 75% of its oil revenues. In addition to helping to improve the implementation of Sudan’s existing social protection systems, the Social Safety Net Project will pilot a ‘Productive Safety Net’ approach in North Kordofan, providing access to livelihood opportunities for poor households and contributing to resilience at the community level. This will create a learning opportunity to scale up the pilot to other states.
“The Social Safety Net Project could not be more timely. As Sudan continues to undertake a range of difficult fiscal reforms, we stand ready to help strengthen and build systems that can protect poor and vulnerable households”, said Xavier Furtado, World Bank Country Representative in Sudan. “I must thank the Ministries of Finance as well as Welfare and Social Security for working together to engage World Bank expertise in this important endeavor. I also extend my thanks to the United Kingdom and Norway for their support to this initiative through the Sudan Multi-Partner Fund.”
The Social Safety Net Project builds on a growing body of World Bank technical assistance in area of human development in Sudan, including programs on health and education.