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World Bank Group to Boost Nigeria’s Efforts to Reduce Poverty

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photo: UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII

The World Bank Group (WBG) discussed a new five-year Country Partnership Framework (CPF) from 2021 to 2024 and approved a $1.5-billion package to help build a resilient recovery post-COVID19.

Nigeria is at a critical juncture. With the sharp fall in oil prices as a result of COVID-19, the economy is projected to contract by over 4% in 2020, plunging the country into its deepest recession since the 1980s. Government revenues could fall by more than 15 billion dollars this year, and the crisis will push an additional 5 million Nigerians into poverty in 2020.

“This Country Partnership Framework will guide our engagement for the next 5 years in supporting the Government of Nigeria’s strategic priorities by taking a phased and adaptive approach,” said Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria. “To realize its long-term potential, the country has to make tangible progress on key challenges and pursue some bold reforms. Our engagement will focus on supporting Nigeria’s efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustained private sector-led growth.”

The CPF will focus on four areas of engagement:

  • Investing in human capital by increasing access to basic education, quality water and sanitation services; improving primary healthcare; and increasing the coverage and effectiveness of social assistance programs. Additional investments in promoting women’s empowerment and youth employment and skills, especially for young women, will also help reduce maternal and child mortality.
  • Promoting jobs and economic transformation and diversification by supporting measures to unlock private investment and job creation and increasing access to reliable and sustainable power for households and firms. The CPF will also focus on boosting digital infrastructure, and developing economic corridors and smart cities, to provide Nigerians with improved livelihoods.
  • Enhancing resilience by strengthening service delivery and livelihood opportunities in the Northeast and other regions grappling with insecurity, as well as modernizing agriculture and building climate resilience.
  • Strengthening the foundations of the public sector by improving public financial management and strengthening the social contract between citizens and government through improved fiscal and debt management.

“A strong private sector is critical to support Nigeria’s economic growth and development. The Country Partnership Framework leverages the World Bank Group to enable business growth that is inclusive and sustainable,” said Kevin Njiraini, IFC Director for Southern Africa and Nigeria. “IFC will continue to support a broader private sector-led growth strategy to help Nigeria realize its immense potential by attracting more investment and creating millions of quality jobs for its growing population.”

Prepared jointly with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), this CPF proposes a collaborative approach of how resources across the entire Bank Group can best support the Government’s effort to achieve its goal to lift 100 million citizens out of poverty.

“To achieve sustainable post-COVID economic recovery, the country needs to strengthen reforms that support private sector solutions and crowd in private sector finance,” said Merli Baroudi, Director at MIGA for Economics and Sustainability. “In close coordination with the World Bank and IFC, MIGA will continue to expand its support for cross-border private investment into Nigeria”.

The World Bank Board of Directors also approved $1.5 billion for two projects, which include:

Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus – Program for Results (Nigeria CARES): This program will help increase access to social transfers and basic services, as well as provide grants to poor and vulnerable households. It will also strengthen food supply chains for poor households while facilitating recovery and enhancing capabilities of MSMEs. This is financed through an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $750 million.

The State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Program for Results (SFTAS) Additional Financing: Building on the progress made across 36 States, the original SFTAS program will be expanded and scaled up in response to COVID-19. The Additional Financing will help meet the financing gap in the Program Expenditure Framework, due to the sharp reduction in government revenues associated with the crisis. It will help increase the efficiency in spending, strengthen revenue mobilization, and enhance accountability and transparency in public resource management to further strengthen state-level COVID-19 response. The project is financed through an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $750 million.

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. It is supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs.

The World Bank Group is making available up to $160 billion over a 15-month period ending June 2021 to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans and $12 billion for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

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World Bank Supports Recovery and Resilience of Rwanda’s COVID-19-Affected Businesses

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The World Bank Group today approved $150 million from the International Development Association (IDA)* to help the Government of Rwanda increase access to finance and to support recovery and resilience of businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Access to Finance for Recovery and Resilience (AFIRR) Project also benefits from $25 million in IDA grants, as well as an additional $7.5 million grant from the Global Risk Financing Facility (GRiF), to help enhance business’ access to finance.

This project is an important contribution to the government’s post-COVID Economic Recovery Plan, promoting investment in priority growth sectors, supporting jobs and reinforcing Rwanda’s financial system’s crisis preparedness.” said Rolande Pryce, World Bank Country M anager. “The AFIRR project provides significant resources to help further capitalize the Economic Recovery Fund coupled with enhanced support programs to improve firms’ capacity and remove barriers to access to finance. It provides a suite of instruments that strengthen the existing recovery ecosystem ranging from financial instruments to adjustment mechanisms that include innovative risk mitigation solutions.”

The project will provide financing targeting affected businesses to facilitate refinancing of existing debt obligations, provide working capital, and support investments for business adaptation and growth through the provision of longer-term sources of finance. This will be complemented by risk sharing instruments, including a partial credit guarantee scheme and a bridge loan and insurance facility, to increase access to finance for underserved segments, such as micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs). In addition, the project will provide targeted technical assistance to firms, participating financial institutions, and government implementing agencies, to address existing constraints for increasing uptake of the Economic Recovery Fund.

Interventions under the project will help businesses to continue to operate and adapt to the post-COVID-19 environment. They will also provide a lifeline to firms in growth-potential sectors that find it difficult to access financing from financial institutions; this will contribute to preserving jobs and mitigating loss of otherwise productive firms that can help drive economic recovery” said Brice Gakombe, World Bank Financial Sector Specialist, and Task Team Leader of the project.

In addition to providing financing, the AFIRR project will bolster the capacity of key government and private sector stakeholders on the technical aspects of the financing and risk-sharing instruments, as well as disaster risk financing principles. As women were hardest hit by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the project focuses on increasing the share of women-inclusive enterprises able to access financing under the liquidity and financing facility and through targeted training to address gender specific constraints for MSMEs as well as improve outreach in underserved segments.

The AFIRR project will be co-financed in the amount of $100 million by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), of which Rwanda is a non-regional member. It is AIIB’s first investment in Rwanda.

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Sierra Leone Receives World Bank Support to Strengthen Education Service Delivery

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Sierra Leone will receive $6.85 million in additional financing to support the COVID-19 education response in the country. Funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) under the Free Education Project, the financing will support activities to ensure school safety and strengthen education service delivery including continuous distance education and accelerated learning. It will also support sustaining effective Government operations, planning, and policies during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

“As an alternate board member of the GPE Board, Sierra Leone continues to play a leading role in the Partnership to implement programs that promote accessible quality education for all,” said Hon. David Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education for Sierra Leone. “In the COVID-19 era, we need to think outside the box to ensure that widening inequities do not further push our most vulnerable populations backward. That is the focus of this additional financing. Even as the Ebola Viral Disease has been recently recorded in the sub-region, we will be able to use the same interventions for continuous learning should the disease ever return to Sierra Leone.”

The financing, which was approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Director on February 5 and became effective on May 26, 2021, is aligned with the Government’s education priorities and strategies, including those outlined in the COVID-19 Education Emergency Response Plan and the World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework for Sierra Leone, specifically with its emphasis on the importance of investing in human development.

There is an implementation partnership arrangement with an NGO Consortium led by Save the Children, partnering with Handicap International (operating under the name Humanity and Inclusion), Plan International Sierra Leone, Concern Worldwide, Foundation for Rural and Urban Transformation, Focus 1000, and Street Child of Sierra Leone. This partnership will help the Government deliver activities rapidly, focusing more on community engagement, and reaching the most marginalized and deprived groups.

“This additional financing will help the Government to cover the costs associated with expanded activities relating to the COVID-19 response as well as enhancing the impact of the Free Education Project in responding to the challenges in the education sector,” said Gayle Martin, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone. “The funding will also help address commitment toward achieving a more inclusive approach to education, increasing the retention of girls and improving the learning environment for children with disabilities.”

The Free Education Project is financed by a $66 million grant, with $50 million from the World Bank and $16 million from development partners. It will help to address key challenges in the education sector. It will contribute to achieving the Government’s larger strategic objectives in the sector while supporting analytical and advisory services associated with monitoring and evaluation, technical assistance, and research and studies.

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Mozambique: Violence continues in Cabo Delgado, as agencies respond to growing needs

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A woman and her baby who fled their home in northern Mozambique in November 2020 are now living in a camp for displaced people. © UNHCR/Juliana Ghazi

Civilians continue to flee armed conflict and insecurity in northern Mozambique, more than two months after militants attacked the coastal city of Palma, located in Cabo Delgado province, UN agencies reported on Friday. 

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, reports that some 70,000 people have fled the city since 24 March, bringing overall displacement to nearly 800,000. 

People have been escaping daily for districts further south, or to neighbouring Tanzania. Thousands more are reported to be stranded in areas around Palma, with restricted humanitarian access. 

Shots fired, houses burned 

“Those fleeing have told UNHCR staff that the situation in Palma remains very unstable, with regular gunfire at night and torching of houses”, Spokesperson Babar Baloch said during a briefing in Geneva. 

UNHCR and partners recently assisted people living in dire conditions in remote areas around Palma, distributing relief items to some 10,000 who have been displaced. 

The agency continues to advocate for internally displaced people to receive protection and assistance, and for those seeking safety in Tanzania, to access asylum. 

Forced back into danger 

Mozambican authorities report that many people attempting to cross the river, which marks the border between the two countries, have been forcibly returned.  More than 9,600 have been pushed back since January, with 900 removals occurring over a two-day period this week. 

“UNHCR reiterates its call for those fleeing the conflict to have access to territory and asylum, and, in particular, for the principle of non-refoulement (no forced return) to be respected”, said Mr. Baloch. “Refugees must not be forced back into danger.” 

‘A children’s crisis’ 

The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said needs are enormous in Cabo Delgado, located in a region that has barely recovered from a deadly cyclone in 2019.  

In the wake of the attack in Palma, some 2,000 children have no idea of the whereabouts of their parents, or even if they are alive, agency Spokesperson James Elder told journalists

“What is happening in Cabo Delgado is a children’s crisis – an emergency on top of an emergency – a deadly cocktail from the impacts of climate change, conflict and COVID-19”, he said. 

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