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World Bank Suggests Guidelines for Social Security Programs in Senegal

With Senegalese officials studying social security plans to help some of the country's poorest citizens, a World Bank economist has outlined suggested procedures to properly design and implement effective social safety nets.

At a Dakar meeting, World Bank officials shared the institution's recent work on social security programs, in light of Senegalese officials' plans to search for ways to provide safety nets for vulnerable groups of the nation's poor.

A recently completed World Bank report details aspects of effective social safety net programs, which World Bank officials hope to help put into practice in Senegal.

World Bank Senior Economist Carlo del Ninno, a specialist in social protection, says social security programs must fulfill a number of criteria to be successful.

Del Ninno says that social safety net programs, which include direct monetary transfers as well as public work programs, food distribution programs, and education or health subsidies for the poor, are needed in every country to help reduce poverty and inequality.

Del Ninno says each country must adapt its social safety nets to meet the realities of its citizenry.

Senegal, he says, could begin by focusing on reducing the high percentage of income that the average family spends on food and transport.

The World Bank report suggests government officials concentrate on making social security programs fair, lasting, and dynamic, in order to avoid inefficiency and waste.

Economically vulnerable groups in Senegal have suffered in recent years from increases in the prices of basic necessities such as food and transport. Government subsidy efforts and the worldwide pullback in commodity prices and basic materials have at least temporarily eased the burden on the nation's poor.

Experts believe any social safety net program should be aimed at consolidating those improvements.