The World Bank said expanding cost-effective safety nets will be one of the main items for discussion at the meeting, which will take place in Washington, D.C. Outgoing President Robert Zoellick said safety nets can “transform” people’s lives and provide a foundation for inclusive growth “without busting budgets.”
New data released by the bank Wednesday (April 18) showed 80 percent of the world’s poorest countries lack effective safety net coverage. The lack of pre- and post-natal care for mothers and children has led to 2.8 million newborn deaths in the first week of their lives. In addition, a deficit in feeding programs for poor people has resulted in 66 million hungry children who struggle to concentrate in school.
The bank’s new social protection and labor global strategy, launched ahead of the meeting, aims to improve the quality and reach of these safety nets. Through the strategy, the bank will be able to help countries extend their SPL programs’ coverage and build coherent national policies that can be scaled up during crises, among other things.
The bank said well-designed SPL programs, such as the Bolsa Familia in Brazil and Oportunidades in Mexico, cost countries only half a percent of theirgross domestic product. Ato Sufian Ahmed, minister of finance and economic development of Ethiopia, said the question is not whether countries can afford to have safety net programs, but whether countries can afford not to have them.
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