The World Bank approved today an additional financing of $5 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to provide the small island nation of Cabo Verde with affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. This is the first World Bank-financed operation in Africa to support a country’s COVID-19 immunization plan and help with the purchase and distribution of vaccine in alignment with the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility.
This additional financing will support the country’s efforts to purchase and deploy more than 400,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, as well as personal protective equipment including masks and other medical supplies to help ensure an effective vaccination rollout. The project will also finance cold chain equipment and transport, as well as improve health infrastructure to help reopen the country for tourism. It builds on the emergency support provided through the Cabo Verde COVID-19 Emergency Response Project.
“As a second wave of coronavirus is taking a serious toll on African lives and economies, closing down schools and businesses, we are stepping up our efforts to help our countries purchase and distribute vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems,” says Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa. “Cabo Verde has a lot of experience in vaccination campaigns and is well prepared to start vaccine deployment this month. This is a critical step to help secure the future of the people of Cabo Verde, restore jobs and reboot the tourism industry particularly hit by the pandemic”.
The economy has been severely affected by the crisis, with GDP expected to contract by 11% in 2020. The island economy off the coast of West Africa has seen its tourism arrivals drop by 70% in 2020, unemployment reached nearly 20%, and its poverty rate more than doubled from 20% to 45% in the short term. While two thirds of the deaths occur among people over the age of 65, the young and economically active Cabo Verdeans are the most affected by the virus.
“Following months of rigorous work and great collaboration, we are quite pleased that the World Bank has approved this additional financing to help Cabo Verde purchase and distribute vaccines against the COVID 19 virus,” said Dr. Olavo Avelino Garcia Correia, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Finances of Cabo Verde. “This financing is the necessary complement to the wide ranging and prompt measures put in place in Cabo Verde at the onset of the pandemic. We are keen to now ensure that we promptly vaccinate the population so that we can restart economic growth in a more diversified and resilient way”.
To help prepare the National COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, a COVID-19 vaccine readiness assessment was conducted by the Government of Cabo Verde with support from the World Bank, the World Health Organizations (WHO) and the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The assessment showed that preparations are well underway, the legal framework and identification process of the target population are in place, and Cabo Verde is now eligible to make use of the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (COVAX-AMC) as the main mechanism for purchasing vaccines.
In response to the pandemic, the World Bank Group in Cabo Verde responded swiftly and focused on three main areas to: save lives, protect the poor and build back better. As part of the health response, a $5 million emergency health operation and an additional $940,000 grant through the Pandemic Emergency Facility (PEF) helped procure essential medical equipment. In addition, a $10 million Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Operations (CAT DDOs) was triggered to help close the fiscal financing gap unlocked by the economic shock and health response. To protect the most vulnerable, $3 million was reallocated through the Social Inclusion project and an additional financing of $10 million was approved to provide emergency cash transfers to additional families in distress. The Education and the Skills Development Enhancement project also helped purchase tablets and televisions to ensure remote learning during the lockdown. To reboot the economy, an additional financing through the access to Finance for Micro, Small, and Medium Sized Enterprises COVID-19 project is supporting small and medium enterprises to access credit. An additional $25 million was also recently approved to strengthen fiscal resilience and reform State Own Enterprises.
The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems.The financing builds on the broader World Bank Group COVID-19 response, which is helping more than 100 countries strengthen health systems, support the poorest households, and create supportive conditions to maintain livelihoods and jobs for those hit hardest.
Sierra Leone Receives World Bank Support to Strengthen Education Service Delivery
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.
Mozambique: Violence continues in Cabo Delgado, as agencies respond to growing needs
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.
Kenya Receives $750 million Boost for COVID-19 Recovery Efforts
To reinforce Kenya’s resilient, inclusive and green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the World Bank approved $750 million in development policy financing to support policy reforms that will strengthen transparency and accountability in public procurement and promote efficient public investment spending.
This development policy operation supports measures to improve medium-term fiscal and debt sustainability through greater transparency and efficiency in government spending, building on ongoing World Bank support to enhance public finance management systems. The operation provides for the establishment of an electronic procurement platform for the public sector that seeks to make government purchases of goods and services transparent. This will help increase accountability in public spending and reduce opportunities for corruption. The support also strengthens public investment management by seeking cost-savings and applying rigorous selection and monitoring and evaluation criteria to all projects. Both measures are expected to yield fiscal savings of up to $2.6 billion.
“The operation prioritizes reforms in hard hit sectors, such as healthcare, education, and energy, which have been made urgent by the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “In recognition of the severity of the crisis and need for a comprehensive response, we are supporting the government’s post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy, which is designed to mitigate the adverse socioeconomic effects of the pandemic and accelerate economic recovery and attain higher and sustained economic growth.”
The policy operation also prioritizes energy sector reforms to improve electricity access and ensure that Kenyans benefit from least-cost, clean energy sources. Further, the new policy framework will help strengthen Kenya Power and Lighting Company’s (KPLC’s) finances with a new competitive pricing regime.
Kenyans will also benefit from better healthcare and disease prevention, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable households, through National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) governance reforms and the establishment of the Kenya Center for Disease Control (KCDC) to strengthen disease prevention, detection, and response. Reforms will further seek to provide Kenyans with more equitable access to higher education, through a performance-based funding method to reduce the imbalances and inefficiencies created by the existing funding model for universities.
“Stabilizing the debt trajectory and reducing high debt costs is a top priority,” said Alex Sienaert, Senior Economist and Task Team Leader, World Bank Kenya. “This policy operation supports measures to reduce the budget deficit over time, such as by making public spending more efficient, whilst minimizing debt costs by helping to meet the government’s current financing requirements on concessional terms.”
DPOs are used by the World Bank to support a country’s policy and institutional reform agenda to help to accelerate inclusive growth and poverty reduction. The negative impacts of the COVID-19 crisis have made reforms that improve governance and service delivery, including those covered by this operation for Kenya, even more critical because they create better conditions for Kenya to inclusively and sustainably recover from it. Financing provided by the World Bank is offered on concessional terms, making it significantly lower than commercial loans. The total annual interest and service cost of the Kenya DPO is 3.1%.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.6 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $21 billion over the last three years, with about 61 percent going to Africa.
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