The total World Bank funding to help the poor and vulnerable since the start of the pandemic stands at $1.65 billion

The World Bank has approved a $500 million programme to support India’s large informal workforce and create greater flexibility for states to cope with the ongoing pandemic as well as future climate and disaster shocks.

The programme called ‘Creating a Coordinated and Responsive Indian Social Protection System’ (CCRISP) builds on the $1.15 billion Accelerating India’s COVID-19 Social Protection Response Program to support schemes under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).

With this, states will get greater flexibility and more money in their hands, according to a release of the World Bank Group on Tuesday.

Devolution of funds under the 15th Finance Commission recommendations will help states create a more adaptive social protection system, provide support to excluded groups and cater to context-specific needs, not only for COVID-19 but also for any future crisis, ecological risk, or natural disaster, it added.

Enhanced disaster relief funds to geographically targeted hot-spot districts will support states during the current phase of the pandemic and any future waves, the release stated.

Finally, the government has announced new urban platforms. The program will strengthen these platforms to deepen social protection coverage in urban areas, it mentioned.

The total World Bank funding towards strengthening India’s social protection programs to help the poor and vulnerable households since the start of the COVID pandemic stands at $1.65 billion, the World Bank Group’s release informed.

The first two operations approved last year provided immediate emergency relief cash transfers to about 320 million individual bank accounts identified through pre-existing national social protection schemes and additional food rations for about 800 million individuals, it informed.

The World Bank Group’s release noted that two issues emerged following the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

First, the rural focus of India’s safety net program and the lack of portability of benefits led to increased suffering for urban and migrant informal workers, it mentioned.

Second, the crisis has brought to the fore the urgent need for greater decentralization and increased coordination for designing future relief measures and state-specific safety nets to tackle shocks,” the release added.

The government’s ongoing reforms are attempting to address the issue of a centralized one-size-fits-all social protection approach, it highlighted.

The focus is on creating mechanisms for the efficient delivery of these reforms, said the release adding that it will help India build back better, create an adaptive, decentralized, coordinated, and responsive social protection system to meet the evolving needs of the Indian economy.