Ethiopia’s Scheme to Help the Poor Sets an Example

Ethiopia’s Urban Productive Safety Net Project, which was launched in 2017 and is among the largest social program in sub-Saharan Africa designed specifically for rural areas. The government hopes it will eventually help 4.7m people in almost 1,000 towns. Beneficiaries are selected by a neighborhood committee based on how poor and vulnerable they are. In addition to the paid work, they also receive training. Those who want to start their own businesses are given grants. 

Ethiopia’s program builds on its flagship rural safety-net, which is the largest of its kind on the continent and covers some 10 million poor people in the countryside (out of a total population of about 102m). The government has committed $150m to fund the new scheme and the World Bank has stumped up the remaining $300m needed for the first five years. Ethiopia hopes that within ten years it will no longer need help financing the program.


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