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An aerial view of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana (File photo)

IDB loan to help Guyana’s vulnerable population

An aerial view of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana (File photo)

A US$30.4-million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will shore up Guyana’s efforts to maintain minimum levels of quality of life for vulnerable persons amid the crisis caused by COVID-19 in the South American country.

Last Tuesday, the IDB announced the approval of the loan as part of measures to support the Guyanese authorities to support minimum income levels and preserve the human capital of those affected by the pandemic.  

Inter-American Development Bank (Photo: Devex)

As of the date of the announcement, December 8, 2020, Guyana has recorded 5,727 confirmed cases and 154 deaths from COVID-19.

Since the transmission of the virus within the country’s borders, it has negatively affected the living standards of nearly all people. In particular, vulnerable groups including low-income families, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and even women, have suffered the consequences of restricted movement and confinement measures due to the pandemic. 

“In addition, the pandemic will have a negative impact on learning, with potential long-term effects on human capital and inequality. It is expected to directly impact the education sector, both on the demand side and on the supply side,” the IDB said in a release

Addressing two major issues

To address these challenges, the IDB-approved loan comes with a project that has two main components: social protection and support for educational continuity.

In its social protection component, it will support temporary extraordinary cash transfers of the Old Age Pension Service and the Public Assistance; electricity bill credits for vulnerable households consuming less than 75KWH per month; and the implementation of the new Survivors Advocates Program, which will help women victims of violence access the criminal justice system, agency referrals, emergency shelters, and cash transfer programmes.  

For the education component, the loan will finance actions to mitigate the effects of school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for their reopening. The efforts include the development of educational content for radio and TV for students in nursery, primary and secondary schools; the distribution of pedagogical materials such as textbooks and curricular guides for teachers; water supply improvement solutions such as the installation of water pumps and storage tanks; and debt relief for public university students. 

“To address these challenges, the IDB-approved loan comes with a project that has two main components: social protection and support for educational continuity”

The loan programme aims to reach 56,000 beneficiaries of the Old Age Pension Service; 9,000 beneficiaries of the Public Assistance; 15,000 beneficiaries of electricity bill credits; 350 women victims of violence; 146,000 students that will receive education delivered through TV and radio; 35,000 students, who will receive textbooks and worksheets; and 1,765 beneficiaries of student loan relief.