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Source: World Bank
4 June 2004

West Bank & Gaza: World Bank Supports Vulnerable Households In West Bank & Gaza

Media Contact:
In the West Bank: Elena Maria Peresso [+972-2-2366509]
In Washington: Sereen Juma 1 (202) 473-7199

RAMALLAH, June 3, 2004 With the aim of supporting the Palestinian Authority (PA) in meeting an increased demand for social assistance, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved on June 3, 2004, the launching of a Social Safety Net Reform Project with an initial financing of US$10 million.

The Project will assist the Ministry of Social Affairs to reform and expand its main social assistance instrument known as the Social Hardship Cases (SHC) Program. This Program provides regular cash assistance, food donations and health insurance provision to about 36,000 beneficiary families (about 120,000 individuals). Funding shortages have occurred during the last three years amidst a climate of increased social vulnerability, PA fiscal difficulties and the ongoing crisis with Israel.

While SHC funding has now resumed, the caseload has grown and many new applicants are on a waiting list. The Bank’s project contains three components: (i) financing of a SHC reform program consisting of conditional and unconditional cash transfer grants; (ii) capacity building in social safety net planning, administration and evaluation and (iii) project management. The project will be implemented over a four-year period and will offer partnership opportunities for interested donors.

“This is a novel approach to social sector reform in the West Bank & Gaza,” says Nigel Roberts, Country Director. “The Bank has successfully supported conditional cash transfer approaches introduced in the last ten years in many other parts of the world, like Latin America and Turkey, where their efficiency has been proven in mitigating the effects of vulnerability in particular as regards poor children.”

Conditional cash transfers are targeted grants for qualifying poor families, enabling them to pay the out-of-pocket costs of keeping their children in school and to make regular preventive visits to health clinics. In the West Bank & Gaza, SHC parents will not only have to ensure their children go to school and receive proper healthcare, but will also be required to attend awareness-raising training courses as the conditions for continuing to receive the cash assistance.

The Bank has been active in the West Bank & Gaza for the past ten years, adapting its operations to the prevailing political climate – from reconstruction to institution building, and since September 2000 to emergency assistance. As with all recent Bank emergency operations in the Palestinian territories, the Social Safety Net Reform Project aims at providing immediate relief and preventing further loss of human capital while supporting the PA’s efforts to achieve sustainable social development in the long run.

For more information on the World Bank’s work in the West Bank and Gaza, please visit:

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