World Bank Plans to Expand Safety Net for Developing Nations

The World Bank plans to strengthen its social safety net to help the 60 percent of people in the developing world who lack adequate protection from the impact of global financial volatility and rising food and fuel prices.

Expanding cash transfers, food assistance, public works programs and fee waivers to help nations respond to crises and fight persistent poverty will be the center of the agenda for the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Development Committee meeting on April 21, the bank said today in Washington.

“Safety nets can transform people’s lives and provide a foundation for inclusive growth without busting budgets,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in an e-mailed statement. “Effective safety-net coverage overcomes poverty and promotes economic opportunity and gender equality by helping people find jobs, cope with economic shocks, and improve the health, education, and well-being of their children.”

The World Bank said during the past decade that its financing for “social protection and labor programs” in 83 countries totaled $11.5 billion.

The “Bolsa Familia” welfare program in Brazil and the Oportunidades program in Mexico, which gives cash to families who agree to keep their children in school and provide them with health care, are examples of how well-designed programs can be cost-effective, the World Bank said.

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