The World Bank on Thursday announced that it was providing Zambia with additional funding of 105 million U.S. dollars to help secure the livelihoods of about 300,000 of the poorest and most vulnerable households.
The funds have been provided under the Girls Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihood (GEWEL) Project, a World-Bank supported project which provides cash transfers to all existing social cash transfer program beneficiary households.
“The GEWEL program has already made important contributions over the past five years towards increasing the school enrolment of adolescent girls from poor households and improving the livelihoods of poor women. But poverty is still prevalent,” World Bank Country Manager for Zambia Sahr Kpundeh, said in a release.
He said the financing will provide a first line of defense for poor households in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the negative effect of the pandemic came on the back of multiple drought years.
He further said the additional financing from the International Development Association (IDA), together with the current financing, will facilitate immediate disbursements for timely and predictable cash transfers to the households.
Emma Hobson, World Bank Senior Social Protection Specialist said in the release that previous impact evaluations of the social cash transfer program have shown that timely and predictable transfers resulted in important human capital and productivity impacts for households.
According to the release, World Bank surveys have shown that since the start of the pandemic, rural households are facing reduced income from non-farm business and reduced or lost wages. Incomes from farming were also reduced for over half of households surveyed, while domestic remittances have also fallen since the outbreak.
The GEWEL project has, since inception, provided more than 28,000 girls from poor households with secondary school bursaries and 75,000 poor women with livelihood packages, including life and business skills training, mentorship, and support through savings groups.