World Bank supports Morocco’s social protection response and reform

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$400 million program to support Morocco’ social protection system, as part of the kingdom’s sweeping reforms to strengthen its social safety nets. The Morocco COVID-19 Social Protection Emergency Response Project will support poor and vulnerable households during the COVID-19 pandemic and reinforce their resilience to future shocks.

Morocco has reacted decisively and swiftly to support the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic and is now accelerating reforms to strengthen its social protection system that we, at the World Bank, are proud to support.” said Jesko Hentschel, World Bank Maghreb Country Director. “This project supports the country in its response to the pandemic as well in its plans to build a broad, effective and vital safety net system for vulnerable populations”.

The Covid-19 pandemic disproportionally affected the poorest segments of the Moroccan population and the livelihoods of thousands of households. It is estimated that the pandemic has halted around 712,000 formal sector jobs and at least 4 million jobs in the informal sector. The program will finance social assistance to these affected categories and to support the capacity of those most in need to overcome the crisis. This support covers both the emergency cash transfers provided through Morocco’s Covid-19 Special Fund as well as those to be channeled through existing social protection programs.

Besides the impact on income, the crisis has challenged the ability of many vulnerable households and their school-aged children to pursue learning in schools.  With an aim to preventing the reversal of Morocco’s human development gains, the project will support the conditional cash transfer program for the education sector, the Tayssir program, to protect children’s learning.

In crises like the one we are experiencing now, protecting children as well as their continued learning is a critical response. Similarly, income transfers are a lifeline for many households who are dependent on the informal sector” said Carlo del Ninno, Lead Economist and co-task team leader.

The project fully supports the Government of Morocco’s efforts and ambitions to strengthen its social protection system, by contributing to the Family Allowance rollout as well as improving the governance, digital infrastructure and harmonization of social assistance programs. It also provides for a contingency financing line allowing for a rapid reallocation of the project funds to respond promptly to emergencies in the near future if needed.

The design of this program is based on both a short- and long-term approach to help lessen the crisis impact on large segments of the population, all the while supporting the country in building a robust social protection system” said Mehdi Barouni, Senior economist and co-task team leader. “Achieving this purpose requires a revamping of social programs based on a coordinated approach to align their objectives and targeting efficiency”.