14 June 2018

Ethiopia: Why Ethiopia's Social Safety Net Would Become Model for Others

Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) which lifted out many out of poverty is a model to be replicated by other African countries, according to the World Bank and stakeholders.

Established in 2005, the government has been effectively implementing PSNP in rural part of Ethiopia, benefiting a large number of citizens. Likewise, in the past two years, it has also started to implement the program in urban areas and has gained encouraging results.

The second phase of the program's fourth chapter has now gone operational. Over the past three programs, 3.4 million people have been lifted out of poverty by helping them generate income and become economically independent.

Studies indicate that Ethiopia's poverty index has declined from 38.7 to 29.6 per cent from 2005 to 2011. And most recently, the index shown significant improvement and has reached to 22 per cent by the year 2016. This has enabled the country achieve Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty by half.

"Ethiopia's PSNP is aimed at enabling the poor to resist shocks, own assets and become food self-sufficient. Active public participation is a key factor in effectively implementing the program," says Solomon Asefa, Urban Food Security and Job Opportunity Agency Deputy Director.

Some 29.6 per cent of Ethiopians are living in poverty. And, he says Productive Safety Net Program is the demonstration of the government's unwavering commitment to reduce poverty.

Aside from sustaining the double digit economic growth, the government has devised the 2014 Social Security Policy with a view to boosting the income of some poor householders in five- years time, the Deputy Director adds.

According to him, the urban safety net program is being implemented in eleven towns; Addis Ababa, Adama, Hawassa, Dessie, Harare, DireDawa, Jigjiga, Semera, Logia, Gambella and Assosa and is expected to benefit some 604,000 people.

This year alone, 123,000 people would become beneficiaries.

In its fourth phase, the program involves some 7.9 million citizens of which, 6.9 million will be engaging in community development activities in their environs.

In addition, by creating linkage with saving and credit associations, some of them are engagingin income generating activities.PSNP Donor Coordination Team Lead at World Bank, Kelly Johnson witnesses that the ongoing poverty reduction effort and the best practice that has been registered in implementing the Safety Net Program in Ethiopia will help introduce the program in other African countries.

It is relevant to provide direct support to 1.3 million elders and people with disability. The assistance would be given in the form of wage. Accordingly, some 14,000 people would be involved in the ongoing developmental activities and save money to be economically independent via involving in income generating activities.

As to her, getting reliable nutrient food supply and graduating and leaving the program after increasing household income are some of the program's effectiveness measures. In addition, the construction of 40,000 km road is also another indicator for program potency.

Taking some best practices from previous three years performance, it is imperative to improve the effectiveness of the program, she adds.

The total project cost is 450 million USD, of which the World Bank granted as loan some 300 million USD while the rest is covered by the Ethiopian government.

World Bank Food Security and Safety Net Program Project Office Head, Debebe Barude on his part says as such program is being introduced in Africa for the first time, and if it is proven effective, partners will for sure show interests in expanding it to other Ethiopian towns that are not yet included in the program.

"The program has been implemented as per the schedule. Most states have finalized the recruitment of poor citizens and they are now on the verge of providing support," he said.

Accordingly, in those selected towns, 12 per cent of the total population or 55 per cent of people living below poverty line would get assistance. Besides, providing financial assistance, the long term plan of the program is facilitating sustainable livelihood improvement support to the beneficiaries.

While those who have the capacity to engage in productive activities would earn the assistance in the form of salary, others would get direct financial support, he adds.

As to Solomon, idleness, problems related to governance, absence of social security scheme and rapid rural to urban migration are some the challenges in ensuring food security.

After the launching of the program last year, it has become a success mainly in six towns and 108 Woredas/districts of the capital where citizens are maximizing benefit through engaging in various development activities such as green development, dry waste management and other environment development activities.

As to him, though the program is effective, lower payment for though who do not take part in productive activities, absence of equipment for those who engaged in development activities, and shortage of integration among executive bodies are some the hurdles it has been facing so far.

Since the onset of the new Ethiopian year, there is also plan to include street children and prostitutes in the program.

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