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Relief as phase two of PSSN plan launch approaches

THE government has set aside about 2tri/- ($833m) for phase II of a Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) programme.

The programme, which will also be implemented by Tanzania Social Action Fund (Tasaf) as it was the case for phase I, will be launched early next month, according to State House Permanent Secretary (PS), Dr Moses Kusiluka.

Dr Kusiluka made the revelation in Arusha last week where he went to inspect the progress of phase I of the programme. Various development partners (DPs), including the World Bank (WB), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) were also present.

Phase I of PSSN programme, which is the government development project has been implemented since 2015 to 2019 in various parts of the country. Usually projects are initiated by PSSN beneficiaries in line with community priorities and the government supports their efforts.

Tasaf has been financially supporting poor households to help them engage in various income generating activities for the betterment of their families.

According to Dr Kusiluka, who also doubles as chairman of the Tasaf national steering committee, the projects have been mostly targeting improvements in education, health, roads, income generating activities, livestock and agriculture.

“The government has been inspecting how its funds are properly allocated and spent. There are a lot of changes in phase II of PSSN, including the widening of beneficiaries’ scope. All those who were left out in phase I due to various reasons will be covered in phase II.”

A prerequisite is to engage in temporary jobs that will be created in various new projects in order to qualify for phase II of PSSN, according to Dr Kusiluka.

“That is how our President wants and directs. Everyone must work for personal upkeep. It should be remembered that the government secures PSSN funds in terms of loans from various development partners, including the WB. The loans must be repaid, hence, every person should do something to benefit from this money,” he stressed.

When asked about the number of PSSN projects, Tasaf Executive Director Ladislaus Mwamanga said the number of projects would be recorded after the beneficiaries had presented their community priorities. He stressed that the widening of the scope of PSSN beneficiaries followed improvements in the needs identification system.

“As the chairman has just said, we have a lot of changes this time, including additional cash for households with disabled people as they have various special needs,” he said, adding that: “Women and children will also be given special consideration and elderly people continue being supported all the time.”

The WB was satisfied with the implementation of the projects and expressed willingness to give $450m more for phase II of PSSN. It was after Arusha Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS) Richard Kwitega presenting a report on how best 34.3bn/- had been spent for all government projects in the region.

WB task team leader Michele Zini stressed that the WB was satisfied with the implementation of the projects in all areas, adding that: “It is very impressive to hear that the households have been able to improve their livelihoods through various income generating activities. We have been also told that improvements in roads have improved the enrolment of pupils as bad roads are now passable and more classrooms, hostels and staff houses are constructed too.”

He reiterated that due to impressive developments of the projects, the coming ones were set to reach as many needy people as possible for poverty eradication, affirming that: “The WB has been supporting similar projects in various African countries, but Tanzania has been doing well in the implementation. We are really impressed with the work done and the WB is willing to continue supporting the projects at national level.”

The delegates also visited the 75m/- bridge construction project at Laja Village in Kansay Ward, Karatu District and appreciated the work done. The villagers praised the support, saying helped them to access social services, mostly education and healthcare.

Acting Village Executive Officer (VEO) Joseph Mathia told the delegates that, the villagers prioritised the bridge because there was a river which used to split the village into parts during the rainy season.

“The problem is that a health centre is located in one part of the village and a primary school in the other. People in both parts need services in the other part of the village, but there is no communication at all until the rain is over.”

He said the situation worsened when one fell sick while the river was full of water and no alternative road to reach the other part of the village where services were available. “Children from one part of the village have been failing to attend school throughout the rainy season, which has led to poor academic performance,” he said.

The acting VEO noted that the bridge would be in full use by the end of the year as construction activities have reached over 80 per cent.

On the other hand, villagers appealed to the government and DPs to continue supporting the village in coming PSSN programmes, saying they looked forward to initiating a secondary school construction project as schoolchildren used to walk eight kilometres to and from Kansay Secondary school in the neighbouring village.

They said they were ready to continue supporting any project through the force account system though they contributed to development projects in their areas.

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