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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-10) Maleika, Marc ; Kuriakose, Anne T.Microinsurance (MI) can be an effective complement to existing menus of social protection programs. A flexible and powerful instrument, MI reduces vulnerability and mitigates the negative effects of external shocks on poor households. However, MI programs require well-developed institutional arrangements in order to run in an efficient and effective manner. Such conditions can be difficult to find in low-income countries. Social funds can help bridge this gap, standing as a platform to organize and deliver MI products. This social funds innovations note introduces some of the primary design principles behind MI program development, highlighting cases of best practice, and suggests how social funds can be used to deliver MI services more effectively to poor households.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-09) Serrano, RodrigoThe steady movement towards decentralization that Latin America has experienced in the last decade, often referred to as the "quiet revolution", has led governments and donors to rethink the role Social Funds (SFs) should play in promoting local development. While SFs had been relatively successful in building local infrastructure, insufficient integration with public sector systems (both national and local) had raised well founded concerns about institutional and investment sustainability. This Note gives a quick overview of how reforms are unfolding in five SFs in Latin America, and highlights some features of the emerging models. It shows that many SFs are working closely with local governments. For these SFs the challenge is no longer whether they undermine local governments or not but rather how they can become an effective instrument of the country's decentralization policy-i.e., how their interactions with local governments, communities, and sectoral agencies advance the decentralization policy objectives and a more balanced approach to local development.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-03) Elder, John ; Tovo, MauriziaDuring preparation of the Benin Social Fund Project, all levels of society indicated that lack of access to credit was a major problem for poor people. At the same time, there was reluctance to put in a micro-credit component, as an assessment of this type of component in social funds had yielded mixed results. The Bank was already supporting the Second Rural Credit Project, providing technical support to a national association of cooperative savings and credit societies to increase the availability of credit. Nonetheless, the Government, having identified micro-credit as a priority, was keen to have micro-credit activities. To balance the somewhat conflicting points of view, the project team decided to develop financial intermediation services for low-income groups, without providing the actual credit. To take into account the heterogeneity of institutions involved in microfinance at the time, the unequal distribution of financial services in the country (especially urban/rural), and the characteristics of different types of clients, the microfinance component was divided into three sub-components, two dealing with formal financial systems, the other with informal ones. The project has been able to fill a gap between poor households and formal credit sources. Critical for the success were the already-existing formal credit organizations that offered financial services relevant to the needs of poor groups. While expertise on microfinance is hard to find, results suggest that intermediation only works where credit is actually available, in a form usable by the target population. Notably, targets should be adjusted to focus on what is important to the beneficiaries.