World Bank starts cash transfers in Senegal

In June the World Bank and government will start distributing cash to thousands of needy urban and rural Senegalese families with children aged five and under, to help protect them from still-high food prices.

The US$6.3 million will be used to offset ‘shocks’ to family incomes caused by high prices, by giving families cash installments, aiming to reduce the risk of children becoming malnourished. The money will be accompanied by micronutrient supplements and fortified foods, according to a World Bank communiqué.

The Senegalese government will target the most vulnerable families country-wide, based on poverty and nutrition assessments.

“We will distribute the money to mothers who have vulnerable children as this is the surest way the money will be spent in the best interests of the child,” Mademba Ndiaye, World Bank West Africa spokesperson, told IRIN.

The Bank runs targeted cash transfer programmes across Africa, as a way – the institution says – to help poor families avert crisis. This is the first it has run in Senegal.

Malnutrition rates in Senegal have dropped by 23 percent since 2000, according to the World Bank. Ndiaye said the Bank and the government want to ensure this trend continues despite high food prices and potential shocks from the global financial crisis.