BEIRUT — The World Bank-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (or “Aman”) program will target 150,000 of the poorest families with cash assistance beginning in March, said Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar in a press conference Monday. The total program is “worth $247 million from the World Bank, and will be paid … in stages, through money transfer companies.”
Here’s what we know:
• Registration for the ESSN and a separate planned government cash assistance program ended Jan. 31, with more than 582,000 households registering to apply for aid.
• Hajjar said Monday that “home visits [to confirm qualification] to those registered in a social protection support network will begin on Feb. 15.”
• While funding is secured for the ESSN program, funding for the separate government ration card program remains up in the air. "Nothing is secured yet for the ration card, but the negotiations with the World Bank are serious," a Social Affairs Ministry spokesperson said. "The government is asking for $300 million to finance the ration card."
• Hajjar also said that the separate Poorest Families Program, which is supported by the World Food Program, “will reach 75,000 families, within four months at the maximum," with payments to be made in dollars.
• Hajjar noted that the Lebanese government also had requested via the UN refugee agency to increase the funding of the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, which is international donors' contribution to Lebanon to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, from $1.5 billion in 2021 to $3.5 billion in 2021 to implement development projects for Lebanese host communities.
Correction: A previous version of this post said Hajjar had said the total allocated to social assistance programs will be raised to $3.5 billion. This figure refers to the requested international funding for the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, not to all social assistance programs.