The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors on Wednesday approved a $400 million grant from the International Development Association to Ethiopia.
The grant will support Ethiopia’s efforts to improve the incomes of the urban poor and promote the inclusion of disadvantaged urban youth in the labor market under the urban productive safety nets and jobs project (UPSNJP), the bank said in a release.
“Poverty and limited access to economic opportunities remain serious challenges in Ethiopia’s urban areas, and the COVID-19- induced economic slowdown has further exacerbated the situation.
“Building on the successes of the World Bank financed Urban Productive Safety Net Project, the UPSNJP will provide social protection as well as jobs related services to 816,000 beneficiaries in around 83 cities across the country,” said Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan.
Social protection systems have played a key role in reducing poverty in Ethiopia and are a critical component of the country’s long-term development strategy.
The need for effective social safety nets and stable jobs for the urban poor has been further highlighted by the disruptions posed by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
In order to provide income support in the short run as well as support livelihoods and financial independence over the medium-term, the project will include public works activities with a built-in strategy for graduation, including for refugees and host communities.
Additionally, the project will provide direct cash transfers for the elderly, the disabled, and pregnant mothers, as well as specialized social services for children in street situations and homeless adults, complementing a dynamic safety net system that is responsive to the diverse needs of the urban poor.
To tackle the issue of urban unemployment, especially amongst the youth, the project will support an apprenticeship program to help them get valuable work experience as a pathway to regular employment.
The project will also help strengthen employment and intermediation services through policy development and investments in the infrastructure of the Public Employment Services.
“Given the economic opportunities in urban areas, and based on the Government’s priority for inclusive growth, it is important to combine safety nets with livelihood support and job opportunities, particularly in a country like Ethiopia where young people account for the majority of its population” said Ayuba Sani Hussein, Sr. Social Protection Specialist and co-Task Team Leader for the project.
The project will provide adequate technical assistance and capacity building for the federal urban job creation and food security agency under the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Jobs Creation Commission as well as other partners, like the Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs and private sector firms.