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World Bank Support to Empower Zambia’s Women, Girls, and the Poorest Households

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Earlier this month, the Zambian government and the World Bank have signed a credit agreement for additional financing to support the Girls Education and Women’s Empowerment (GEWEL) Project. The additional financing, approved by the World Bank Board of Directors in March 2020, will support the government’s goal to increase access to livelihood support for women and to boost access to secondary education for disadvantaged adolescent girls in extremely poor households in selected districts.  

This financing includes a $142 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) and $35 million in co-financing grants from the UK Department for International Development and the Swedish International Development Association, which are jointly funding the program under a Bank-administered multi-donor trust fund. This support augments the existing GEWEL Project, worth $65 million, which was approved in 2015.  

The GEWEL Project has supported more than 28,000 girls from poor households by covering their secondary school costs and 75,000 poor women in Zambia with livelihood packages, including, life and business skills training, mentorship, and support to form savings groups.  

Recognizing the dire needs of these girls and women, the GEWEL Project also supports regular and predictable cash transfers to 245,000 extreme poor and vulnerable beneficiaries through the government’s Social Cash Transfer (SCT) Program. Such cash transfers have improved basic consumption, resilience and investments in productive activities in Zambia and are crucial to protect the basic needs and human capital of the poor— particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is negatively impacting the country’s extreme poor and vulnerable.  

The strength of the multi-donor trust fund approach is that it provides a mechanism for international partners to pool funding, with strong controls, around a common goal. It is envisaged that the trust fund will help facilitate support for social protection at a critical time. 

“With this support, we are hopeful that better human capital outcomes will be attained through educating adolescent girls, empowering women and supporting the poorest households with longer-term investments, as well as enhancing government’s capacity to manage such interventions,” said Sahr Kpundeh, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia.

The project is mostly implemented in rural areas where education levels are low and the prevalence rates of gender-based violence (GBV) are high.  

“Considering that gender-based violence (GBV) is a major concern in Zambia, under the Additional Financing  a more concerted approach to prevent, mitigate, and respond to GBV risks will be introduced, with complimentary interventions within the Bank’s health and education projects,” said Emma Hobson, World Bank Task Team Leader of the project.  

The project brings together a collaboration between three ministries—Gender, Community Development and Social Services, and General Education—to support Zambia’s poorest citizens.  

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Development

Philippines: Boosting Private Sector Growth Can Strengthen Recovery, Create More Jobs

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Rebounding from a deep contraction in 2020, the Philippine economy is forecast to grow 5.3 percent this year before accelerating to an average of 5.8 percent in 2022-23 on the road to recovery, according to the Philippines Economic Update (PEU) titled Regaining Lost Ground, Revitalizing the Filipino Workforce, released today by the World Bank.

Government spending on infrastructure is expected to buoy growth, aided by the steady progress in vaccination leading to greater people mobility and the revival of businesses. Barring a new uptick in COVID-19 cases, household consumption is projected to recover, anchored on rising remittances and improving incomes as more people regain or find new jobs.

“The new variant has added a layer of uncertainty but economic reopening, along with progress in vaccination, is clearly strengthening domestic dynamism and market confidence,” said Ndiame Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. “As the recovery gains traction, it will be important to enhance private sector participation in the recovery by deepening current efforts to make the country’s business environment favorable to job creation while upskilling the workers so that they can benefit from new or emerging job opportunities.”

Reforms that open more sectors to foreign investments, streamline administrative procedures to facilitate market entry and encourage firms to adopt new technology are measures that can boost private sector growth, create more jobs, and strengthen recovery, Diop added.

The nearly two-year long pandemic, however, has forced the closures of many firms, leading to losses of jobs and incomes, alongside health insecurities and disruptions in children’s education.

The Philippines underwent two surges of COVID-19 infections this year, first in March-April and in August-September due to the more infectious Delta variant. In both instances, the authorities reinstated strict mobility restrictions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, and key metropolitan areas.

Nonetheless, the recent surge and mobility restrictions have not severely hampered economic activity. As a result, the economy expanded by 4.9 percent in the first three quarters of 2021, rebounding from a 10.1 percent contraction over the same period in 2020.

In 2022, the phased economic reopening is expected to benefit the services sector especially transportation, domestic tourism, and wholesale and retail trade. Sustained public investment will continue to support construction activities.

The PEU flags that despite encouraging trends, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a major risk to the country’s growth prospects.

The report notes that even in countries with high vaccination rates, infections have continued to spread, albeit with greatly reduced severity of illness, hospitalization, and mortality. Variants of concern, breakthrough cases, and waning vaccine efficacy have highlighted the complexity of economic reopening.

“Speeding up vaccination especially in areas outside the National Capital Region and sustaining the observance of health protocols including masking and maintaining social distancing are measures that remain important as the country navigates the challenges of reviving the economy,” said Kevin Chua, Senior World Bank Economist.

Social protection measures, Chua added, including the country’s cash transfer programs remain important measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the pandemic on livelihoods, health, and education, especially among poor families.

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Africa Today

United States COVID-19 vaccine delivery to Mozambique

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In an effective effort to make tremendous and recognizable contributions to help fight the spread of coronavirus, the United States Embassy in Mozambique has announced the arrival of more than two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coordinated through COVAX in Maputo, Mozambique.

This is the United States’ fourth and largest bi-lateral COVID-19 vaccine delivery to Mozambique, bringing the total number of U.S.-donated vaccines to nearly 3.5 million, and maintaining the United States as Mozambique’s largest bi-lateral vaccine donor.

“The United States remains committed to sharing vaccines equitably, around the world,” U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Dennis W. Hearne said. “No one is protected from COVID-19 until everyone is vaccinated. As more vaccines become available to all nations around the world, we have a shared interest in getting everyone who is eligible vaccinated.”

The U.S. Government has provided early and ongoing support for the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Mozambique, including assistance valued at $62.5 million. This assistance includes the recent donation of 60 oxygen cylinders and a PSA oxygen plant, 50 ventilators, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, laboratory and oxygen equipment, training, and funding for increased medical staff, among other initiatives.

In close collaboration with the Government of the Republic of Mozambique, the U.S. Government provides more than $500 million in annual assistance to improve the quality of education and healthcare, promote economic prosperity, and support the overall development of the nation.

The Mozambican government’s target is to vaccinate about 16.8 million people. Excluded from the vaccination are pregnant women and children under 15 years of age. According to the latest figures from the Health Ministry, the number of people fully vaccinated against the disease now stands at 3,324,849, and 6,158,360 have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Mozambique shares borders with South Africa where a new COVID variant (B.1.1.529), renamed Omicron, is currently spreading. Travellers from the region are monitored. The United States, Europe and Asian States have restricted flights from southern African region, and that include Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

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Development

World Bank Supports Cabo Verde to Build a Sustainable and Equitable Recovery

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The World Bank approved a $30 million Development Policy Financing Operation on December 6 to support the Government’s efforts to strengthen policies for a sustainable, equitable, and greener recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in Cabo Verde.

As Cabo Verde is recovering from the largest economic contraction in history and leveraging the moment to embark in an ambitious reform agenda, this operation supports policy action to lay the foundations for economic recovery by reducing fiscal risks and improving debt transparency, strengthening the resilience of poor and vulnerable households, particularly women, and enabling a sustainable private sector-led recovery,” says Nathan Belete, World Bank Country Director for Cabo Verde.

This operation, the first in a series of two, is closely aligned with the priorities the Government outlined in its recovery strategy, Cabo Verde Ambição 2030.

The program supports reforms to reduce fiscal risks and improve debt transparency by strengthening fiscal risk management and improving the quality, frequency, and coverage of public debt reporting, including from State-Owned Enterprises. It also builds on the COVID-19 response program to strengthen the social protection system to enable a faster and better targeted response to external shocks. Finally, the operation promotes socially and environmentally responsible private investment in tourism, aquaculture, and tourism.

In sum, the program of reforms supported by the operation is expected to have positive effects on poverty, positive social and environmental impact, and increase the resilience of the economy to external shocks.

The World Bank supports Cabo Verde through 9 national IDA/IBRD projects for a   net commitment of $186 million, one regional project for an amount of $15 million along with a comprehensive program of analytical services. These activities contribute to the country’s overall economic growth and development through the implementation of economic reforms related to transport, governance, private sector development, tourism competitiveness and diversification, social and productive inclusion, debt management capacity, human development, and digital transformation.

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