Newly launched Safety Net Program targets 8mln Vulnerable People

ADDIS ABABA – The government of Ethiopia targets to improve the lives of 8 million vulnerable people through its fifth Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP).

The five-year-long program, which requires a $2.38bln budget, was launched on Monday in a program attended by top government officials and its development partners.

Finance Minister Ahmed Shide reaffirmed his government’s commitment to creating more jobs to reduce poverty and improve the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable households.

These households are located in 408 rural woredas distributed in nine regional states.

Over the next five years, officials say the program will reach up to nine million people each year as it provides food assistance and services that will lift vulnerable families out of poverty.

World Bank’s report released last year, claims that poverty reduction in Ethiopia continued with the share of the population below the national poverty line decreasing from 30% in 2010/11 to 24% in 2015/16.

It said non-monetary dimensions of welfare such as education, health, and access to water and sanitation, improved alongside the reduction in poverty, but generally remain at a low level.

The report suggests the contribution of the PSNP to poverty reduction could further be enhanced by better aligning needs with beneficiary numbers, improving geographical targeting, and harmonizing the different food security programs and interventions.

– Increasing govt’s capacity –

On Monday, finance minister Ahmed affirmed Ethiopia’s commitment to continue working to ensure the recent gains in poverty reductions are supported with expanded jobs creation.

This, he said, will be achieved as Ethiopia makes use of its investments in sectors such as infrastructure and education and transitions into a private sector-led growth.

The minister also expressed his appreciation for seeing more enhanced service delivery design in the project to improve the well-being of poor and vulnerable households, particularly in drought-prone communities.

European Union delegation, who is the current chair of PSNP donors’ group, congratulated Federal Ministries for designing a more robust program based on lessons from previous phases.

PSNP V will play an important role as it contributes to multiple development programs in Ethiopia, said Sabrina Bazzanella, EU delegation’s Head of Social Protection and Migration Section.

The program is anticipated to operate more efficiently under the coordination of one institution which is the Ministry of Agriculture.

Bazzanella said evaluation of the last program shows how the capacity of the Government has increased to scale up and reach more lives as well as human development objectives which were reached through public works.

This, she said, is also evident in the increase of government financial contribution to the program which has grown from 3% to 20%.

The launching ceremony ended with the Ministry of Finance signing a Memorandum of Understanding with regional governments focusing on the implementation while Federal Ministries also signed an MOU with development partners.

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