World Bank Continuous Support to Empower Zambia’s Women, Girls, and the Poorest Households
Earlier this month, the Zambian government and the World Bank have signed a credit agreement for additional financing to support the Girls Education and Women’s Empowerment (GEWEL) Project. The additional financing, approved by the World Bank Board of Directors in March 2020, will support the government’s goal to increase access to livelihood support for women and to boost access to secondary education for disadvantaged adolescent girls in extremely poor households in selected districts.
This financing includes a $142 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) and $35 million in co-financing grants from the UK Department for International Development and the Swedish International Development Association, which are jointly funding the program under a Bank-administered multi-donor trust fund. This support augments the existing GEWEL Project, worth $65 million, which was approved in 2015.
The GEWEL Project has supported more than 28,000 girls from poor households by covering their secondary school costs and 75,000 poor women in Zambia with livelihood packages, including, life and business skills training, mentorship, and support to form savings groups.
Recognizing the dire needs of these girls and women, the GEWEL Project also supports regular and predictable cash transfers to 245,000 extreme poor and vulnerable beneficiaries through the government’s Social Cash Transfer (SCT) Program. Such cash transfers have improved basic consumption, resilience and investments in productive activities in Zambia and are crucial to protect the basic needs and human capital of the poor— particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is negatively impacting the country’s extreme poor and vulnerable.
The strength of the multi-donor trust fund approach is that it provides a mechanism for international partners to pool funding, with strong controls, around a common goal. It is envisaged that the trust fund will help facilitate support for social protection at a critical time.
“With this support, we are hopeful that better human capital outcomes will be attained through educating adolescent girls, empowering women and supporting the poorest households with longer-term investments, as well as enhancing government’s capacity to manage such interventions,” said Sahr Kpundeh, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia.
The project is mostly implemented in rural areas where education levels are low and the prevalence rates of gender-based violence (GBV) are high.
“Considering that gender-based violence (GBV) is a major concern in Zambia, under the Additional Financing a more concerted approach to prevent, mitigate, and respond to GBV risks will be introduced, with complimentary interventions within the Bank’s health and education projects,” said Emma Hobson, World Bank Task Team Leader of the project.
The project brings together a collaboration between three ministries—Gender, Community Development and Social Services, and General Education—to support Zambia’s poorest citizens.