Washington — Tarig Abdelgadir and his family have been looking forward to this day. They joined members of the local community who gathered at the Jabal Awliya locality building, in the south of Khartoum, all of whom were waiting eagerly to register for the Sudan Family Support Program (SFSP) which promises to provide them with much-needed support in light of the escalating economic crisis. Their beaming smiles outshined even the blazing noon sun and reflected their keen enthusiasm for what they have heard about from the media and the community-based organizations in their neighborhood.
The registration office was buzzing with energy and excitement of potential beneficiaries including those with physical disabilities, and single mothers with small children. Tarig and his wife Nusiba, along with their three children were among the first to enroll in the program.
The family has been struggling to make ends meet. They are expecting to receive $25 and plan to use it to buy basic provisions. The COVID-19 crisis, floods and desert locusts have exacerbated an already complex situation in the country, with families like Tarig's bearing the brunt of the shocks.
According to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, "the SFSP will renew the social contract between the citizens and the state and restore confidence by developing effective social protection policies and institutions that fulfill the demands and aspiration of the Sudanese people for a decent living."
Supported by the World Bank Group and development partners, SFSP aims to deliver monthly cash transfers to vulnerable families such as Tarig's, and improve safety net systems to cushion them against the adverse effects of the economic reforms and other short-term shocks.
"We are all optimistic about the support we will get because it will help us to meet our basic daily needs," Tarig said.
The first phase of the program was launched on February 24, 2021 and covers Khartoum, Red Sea, South Darfur, and Kassala states. By March 4, nearly 80,000 Sudanese households (nearly 400,000 beneficiaries) had already received their first month payment through cash cards. Now in its second phase, the program will be extended to Blue Nile, White Nile, Sinnar, Central Darfur, East Darfur, North Kordofan, South Kordofan, and West Kordofan states.
The SFSP will also help to establish government systems and build institutional capacity. The first phase of the SFSP was made possible with a grant totaling $400 million.
The amount includes $200 million in World Bank pre-arrears clearance grant and $200 million from the Sudan Transition and Recovery Support Trust Fund (STARS). To scale up activities and reach as many people as possible, the initial investment has been complemented by an additional $420 million ($210 million in International Development Association Pre-arrears Clearance Grant and $210 million in donor contributions), bringing the total amount available for the program to $820 million.
This will enable the government to provide five U.S. dollars to each qualified member of household initially for a period of six months. Subject to funding availability, the transfers will be ramped up to twelve months, with the aim of eventually reaching 80% of the population or nearly 32 million citizens.
The program serves as an exemplary model for the close partnership and synergies between various government institutions and will help establish an effective social safety net system in Sudan. In this regard, Gibril Ibrahim, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said "Only we, the Sudanese people, will ensure the success of the economic reform and political transformation. Therefore, the Sudan Family Support Program is not only about providing financial support to 80% of the Sudanese people, but also about establishing a nation-wide safety net system capable of providing social protection to anyone in need."
The Sudan Transition and Recovery Support Trust Fund (STARS) is an umbrella coordination platform for World Bank engagement in Sudan, supporting the Government of Sudan's economic and peacebuilding transition. STARS partners include Canada, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, State and Peacebuilding Fund, and United Kingdom.