, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on Wednesday approved a zero-interest credit of Sh2.3 billion to help Kenya fight extreme poverty by setting up a National Social Safety Net Program for Results.
The safety net will knit together several existing government programs into a better coordinated and more efficient system and aims at reaching up to 3.3 million of the country’s poorest people by 2017.
The five existing programs to be merged include the Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, the Hunger Safety Net Program, the Older Persons Cash Transfer, the Urban Food Subsidy Cash Transfer and the Persons with Severe Disability Cash Transfer.
The funds from the International Development Association (IDA) will be disbursed to Kenya over the next four years as specific project milestones and results are achieved.
While Kenya has registered strong economic growth over the past decade, 38 percent of Kenyans still live in poverty, especially in rural areas.
The program will also help cushion citizens from worst effects of crises such as drought, malnutrition, and unemployment.
“Being cushioned against devastating income losses by a small but regular transfer of money from the program helps poor people afford consistent nutrition and healthcare, and keep children in school. With these basics in place, vulnerable households are far more likely to become part of an economy that’s on the move,” World Bank Country Director Diarietou Gaye noted.
Key results for which funds will be disbursed include more households registered in the program; a large share of beneficiaries meeting the program’s targeting criteria; and evidence of timely and reliable payments.
“Kenya, with its long history of various kinds of smaller cash and food transfer programs, is ready to join the global movement today among developing countries towards progressive and efficiently managed national social safety nets,” World Bank Director for Human Development in Africa, Ritva Reinikka said.
While the success of such broad national programs was first demonstrated in Brazil and Mexico, he said, Africa has been swift to recognize their benefits, and safety nets have helped make rapid gains possible in countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda.
This is the first time the World Bank is using the new Program-for-Results instrument to help build a social safety net system in Africa.