Poverty March 13, 2015 | 6:55 am

WB taps US$75M to help 1.3M+ poor Dominicans

Washington DC.– The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a new project for the Dominican Republic worth US$75 million, which seeks to ensure that thousands of citizens gain access to a comprehensive social protection package and help reduce extreme poverty in the country’s poorest provinces.

This will not only increase access to the National Health Insurance (SeNaSa, in Spanish) and education to the most vulnerable, but will also increase their employability skills and enable basic improvements to housing.

“Because I believe in strengthening an inclusive and reliable social protection system that has ample coverage and equity, I once again commit to broadening the interventions we have boosted in the last decade with the Progresando Program, helping many families out of poverty. Nowthis is integrated with the Solidaridad Program that uses Conditional Cash Transfers as a key to enter the households to work in developing human and social capital, with greater emphasis on employability, housing improvement, citizen culture and complementarities with the national health insurance”, said Margarita Cedeño de Fernandez, Vice President of the Dominican Republic and DR’s Social Policy Cabinet Coordinator.

“Poverty is structural, a multi-headed monster, therefore, our approach must include integration and inter-institutional coordination in order to be efficient. This package that broadens our programs is supported by an important strategic partnership with the World Bank”.

Although the Dominican Republic grew at an annual average rate of 6.7 percent over the last decade, making it one of the best performing countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, poverty and inequality continue to represent a challenge. Around 46 percent of all rural Dominicans live in poverty, women being the most affected.

“This project tries to provide equal opportunities to all Dominicans, strengthening existing safety nets and facilitating the employability of the most vulnerable people, with a particular focus on young women and men,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Director for the Caribbean. “It also helps strengthen the targeting system and scales up an innovative system of citizen reports for moreefficiency and transparency in the social protection system.”

The Project supports the DR’s Social Policy Cabinet through several government agencies, including the National Institute of Technical and Vocational Training (INFOTEP in Spanish), the subsidized Health System (SeNaSa), and the Ministry of Education.

The 14 provinces to be selected are: Elias Piña, San Juan de la Maguana, Distrito Nacional, Baoruco, Barahona, Independencia, Azua, San Cristóbal, Pedernales, El Seibo, Santiago, Monte Cristi, Santo Domingo and Monte Plata.

In particular, the Integrated Social Promotion and Protection Project will:

· Increase access among the poorest individuals of 14 provinces to an integrated package of social promotion and protection;

· Increase the registration rate in SeNaSa among the extremely poor by incorporating more than 80 percent of eligible households;

· Improve living conditions for extremely poor families by improving their homes, mainly by replacing dirt floors with concrete ones;

· Provide labor training and internships based on employers’ needs to more than 40,000 young men and women in cooperation with INFOTEP;

· Improve social spending targeting by updating the Single Beneficiary Identification Register (SIUBEN);

· Expand results-based management to all Social Cabinet social programs;

· Improve the user feedback and guidance mechanisms of the conditional cash transfer program, PROSOLI.

The project will be financed via a variable-margin US$75 million loan, with a 34-year maturity period and a 5-year grace period.

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