Government of Belize has received financial support from the World Bank in the sum of US$12.4-million to aid in the quick response to the social protection needs exaggerated by the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be used to strengthen and widen social assistance to the poor and most vulnerable families in Belize.
Under the financing, the Ministry’s flagship social assistance program known as the Building Opportunities for Our Social Transformation (BOOST) will provide monetary relief to existing beneficiaries for a 14-month period. BOOST Beneficiaries is among the poorest households in Belize to be impacted by the economic shock, as a result, beneficiaries will receive a 6-months increase to their monthly financial benefits.
The funds will also support a new temporary cash transfer program to assist poor and vulnerable households that are not receiving support from any other social assistance program, such as, BOOST, Food Pantry, Unemployment Relief Program and any contributory or non-contributory pension scheme. This program is known as the Belize COVID-19 Cash Transfer program also referred as BCCAT pronounced as /be-cat/.
The BCCAT program will provide cash relief for 6-months to new beneficiaries that meets the program eligibility criteria.
The BCCAT program will target approximately 10,500 poor households that will be screened using a poverty assessment tool that verifies households social and living conditions. The selection will prioritize households with pregnant women, children, the elderly and persons living with a physical disability.
As a result of the pandemic, a pragmatic approach to identifying the population to select the 10,500 households was chosen. Recent data suggest that over 60,000 households applied for the COVID Food Assistance Program, of that amount over 30,000 households were approved based on the eligibility criteria of the COVID Food Assistance Program. The Ministry will select the 10,500 BCCAT beneficiary household from the 30,000 approved applicants from the COVID Food Assistance Program.
To effectively implement the BCCAT program the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation has partnered with the National Bank of Belize Limited, DIGI and the Belize Social Investment Fund. The GoB is accessing the funds through the Contingent Emergency Response Component under the Climate Resilient Infrastructure Project.
The funds will cover an approximately 13,000 poor and vulnerable households through the two cash transfer social assistance program.