Belize has received support from the World Bank in the form of a US$12.4-million disbursement, which will strengthen its response to the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
With the funds, the Central American country will provide social assistance to poor and vulnerable households impacted by the crisis.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to serious economic and social challenges for Belize,” Tahseen Sayed, World Bank country director for the Caribbean, explained.
“The World Bank mobilised a rapid response to support the country’s efforts in mitigating the impacts on the poor and most vulnerable populations.”
According to the World Bank Group, the allocation will support the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation-implemented social protection response to the COVID-19 emergency. In particular, the financing will provide relief for existing beneficiaries of Belize’s main poverty reduction social protection programme, Building Opportunities for Our Social Transformation (BOOST).
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to serious economic and social challenges for Belize.”— Tahseen Sayed, country director for the Caribbean, World Bank Group
The funds will also bring aid to poor households not receiving other social assistance or employment income through a temporary Belize COVID-19 Cash Transfer (BCCAT) Programme.
As a result, the social protection response programme will target households screened through a poverty assessment tool and that meet the set criteria. The households include those with pregnant women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Specific details on eligibility criteria and the scope of the emergency social assistance will be published by the Government of Belize prior to roll-out.
Overall, approximately 13,000 households in need are expected to receive cash transfers through this emergency response.
Belize accessed the funds under the Contingency Emergency Response Component, which allows funds to be reallocated from existing projects to address emergency response needs. The funds were originally for the Climate Resilience Improvement Project.