The World Bank yesterday signed a $75 million (about K40.5 billion) financial agreement with the Malawi Government to cover the financing gap for ongoing project activities under the fourth Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf 4).
The resources are in addition to $32 million (about K17 billion) to the project under a separate financing agreement the two parties signed a year ago.
Masaf intends to strengthen Malawi’s social safety net delivery systems and coordination across programmes, according to Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe who signed the agreement on behalf of Malawi.
The project, which is aptly called Strengthening Safety Net Systems by the World Bank, seeks to help reduce poverty levels of about five million poor Malawians by providing work opportunities, cash transfers and grants to raise household incomes.
Through the project, Gondwe, speaking during the official signing ceremony at Capital Hill in Lilongwe, said government will focus on investments such as livelihood and skills development interventions and social cash transfers.
He said: “This is a very important project in Malawi which has a positive impact on many ordinary Malawians.”
The minister cited school blocks, teachers’ houses, bridges and roads, health centres, irrigation infrastructures, boreholes and afforestation as some of the projects that have been implemented with support of the Masaf project.
He said K1.7 billion has been set aside for the planting of trees nationwide in the current financial year.
The project is also providing grants to households aimed at increasing their incomes and assets through savings and investment promotion under the Community Savings and Investment Promotion (Comsip) programme component, said Gondwe.
In her address, World Bank country manager Laura Kullenberg said in the past 15 years that Masaf has been implemented, government has provided basic social services to poor communities in form of roads, clinics, classroom blocks and teachers’ houses.
“Masaf is well known for its public works programmes, which enabled vulnerable people to get cash to purchase important items such as fertiliser,” she said.