The board of executive directors of the World Bank has agreed to extend an extra credit of 370 million dollars to Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). The credit incorporates 70 million dollars allotted for the crisis response of the drought in the Horn of Africa. The amount of money approved this time around is expected to reach 7.6 million food insecure people which represents eight percent of Ethiopia’s population. The program is set to benefit 8.3 million people by 2015.
Though the logic behind PSNP is that food insecure people who are enrolled in the program will graduate over time thereby leaving behind fewer and fewer people who depend on the program, the figure above portrays an increase.
“Gradually we would like to see fewer numbers of people that will depend on this program but the fact is that this country is poor. Estimates show that at least 10 million people still rely on food aid in this country. Compared to what it was 10 years ago, I think, that number is reduced. I think this program has served. We still highlight the fact that there are still a large number of people who we are able to support. But the whole thing is that a lot of people certainly will be reduced,” argued Guang Z. Chen, the World Bank country director for Ethiopia in a round table discussion with journalists held Tuesday.
“One of the discussions we have been having with the government is what will be the end game of the program in 2015? Is there going to be another PSNP program or another form of assistance? We are actually working with the government in order to turn it in to a national disaster risk management program. The natural risk for this country is drought. In other part of the world there might be earthquake, volcanoes, and wind. What we want is to develop a national system where the national government is setting policy, putting aside reserve money, and then at local government level you will have an agency responsible for this kind of recurrent drought so that they can provide a rapid response system rather than depending on donor system for food aid, in such particular case. This has been work on progress. It is going to take a couple of years to reach such stage,” added the country director.
The PSNP serves 319 districts throughout the country. The program works by paying food insecure people in exchange for their labor contribution in public projects for half a year and giving direct grants to those parts of the community who are unable to work including pregnant women. Forty thousand public work projects have been undertaken in the area of environmental rehabilitation, feeder roads, and small scale irrigation systems every year to address the root cause of food insecurity.
The safety net scheme has a track record of seven years of improving food security for poor people and increasing their resilience in the face of economic and climate related crisis.
The program is improving food security by an average of 32 days for households participating in the public works program and increasing their livestock by an average of 10 sheep or goats per family, according to the World Bank.
PSNP is one of the two flagship programs of the World Bank in Africa; the other being Protection of Basic Services. The bank support in relation to social protection has been increasing across the continent over the last decade. Its lending commitment for social protection has grown from an average of 260 million dollars over the years from the year 2001 to 2005 to 600 million dollars a year from 2006 to 2010 while its commitment for this year stands at 700 million dollars.
The PSNP is in its third phase of implementation from its inception in 2005 with an aggregate budget of 2.3 billion dollars. The budget of PSNP comes from 10 development partners which are United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, Irish Aid, European Union, Canadian International Development Agency, Swedish International Development Agency, Danish International Development Agency, United States Agency for International Development, World Food Program, World Bank and the Netherlands.