Sudan's poor families are due to benefit from a $390 million funding from the World Bank in a programme meant to provide cash transfers crucial for the survival of many during the Covid-19 crisis.
This week, the global lender signed a deal with Khartoum to provide funding for the second phase of an emergency poverty alleviation programme known as Thamarat. The deal announced on Tuesday means the World Bank would have funded the programme to a total tune of $820 million for both phases.
The project targeting the poor in the villages is being funded through the World Bank affiliate, the International Development Association, as a pre-settlement grant for Sudan's debt arrears, in addition to support through the Sudan Transition and Recovery Trust Fund, which includes 13 other donors.
Initially launched in February as Phase 1, the programme received a first disbursement of $400 million, targeting some 11 million poor people in Khartoum, the Red Sea, Kassala and South Darfur regions, representing 33 percent of the total number of expected beneficiaries.
As of March 3, about 80,000 Sudanese families (nearly 400,000 beneficiaries) received first month payments through cash cards. Total payments to these beneficiaries were approximately $ 1.9 million, officials said. The majority of these beneficiaries are in Khartoum State, and the support will soon extend to other states.
For the second phase, Blue Nile, White Nile, Sennar, Central Darfur, East Darfur, North Kordofan, Southern Kordofan and West Kordofan will benefit.
Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok had said earlier that the response plan meant to cushion the poor from shocks and keep them going, is the government's biggest project so far
"The launch of this programme will restore confidence between the state and the citizens by developing effective policies and institutions for social protection that meet the demands and aspirations of the Sudanese people for a decent life," Hamdok said last month.
Families will receive cash transfers, help authorities build basic services in regions, allow for proper monitoring and evaluation of its relevance, as well as expand to long-term projects.
Officials also signed an additional financing agreement of $210 million, meaning that the IDA grant contribution will reach $410 million, while other donors' contribution will increase to $350 million in total.
Dr Gabriel Ibrahim, the Finance and Economic Planning minister, said the programme will lessen the blow, not eliminate it, suggesting that there is need for a long-term solution.
"We celebrate the World Bank's approval to fund the second phase of the (Thamarat) programme... this is a collective achievement, and we celebrate this with all of you."
"We also know that cash transfer is not a complete answer for many Sudanese families, the goal is productivity and jobs and to achieve this, we are committed to removing distortions and imbalances in economic policies."
The programme will provide the equivalent of five dollars in Sudanese currency for each family member for a period of six months as a start. Subject to availability of funding, the support will be extended to twelve months, with the goal of eventually reaching 80 percent of the population, or nearly 32 million Sudanese citizens.
"We are very pleased to continue our partnership with the Sudanese government in its efforts to increase support for Sudanese families," said Othman Dion, World Bank Country Director for Sudan.
"We will continue our partnership with Sudan for the success of this programme by providing the government with all possible resources and resources for its citizens."
The programme is implemented by the Government of Sudan.
The World Bank will provide technical support to the government to strengthen financial systems and social protection and monitor programme activities in order to ensure effective project implementation.