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A farmer in Haiti prepares a plot if land for rice farming. (File photo)

Over 100 developing nations receive COVID-19 aid from World Bank

A farmer in Haiti prepares a plot if land for rice farming. (File photo)

More than 100 developing nations have received aid from the World Bank to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

World Bank Group headquarters in Washingston, DC, USA. (File photo)

The World Bank’s emergency efforts in those nations are part of its commitment to contribute US$160 billion of grant and financial support over the next15 months.

The outreach to those countries, which account for 70 per cent of the world’s population, is the institution’s largest and fastest response to a crisis in its history as it moves to protect the poor and vulnerable, strengthen health systems and bolster economic recovery.

Further, 39 of the countries that have benefitted are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Just over 30 per cent of the total projects are in fragile and conflict-affected territories such as Afghanistan, Chad and Haiti, the World Bank said.

World Bank Group President David Malpass said “The pandemic and shutdown of advanced economies could push as many as 60 million people into extreme poverty – erasing much of the recent progress made in poverty alleviation.

“The World Bank Group has moved quickly and decisively to establish emergency response operations in 100 countries, with mechanisms that allow other donors to rapidly expand the programs. To return to growth, our goal must be rapid, flexible responses to tackle the health emergency, provide cash and other expandable support to protect the poor, maintain the private sector, and strengthen economic resilience and recovery,” he said. 

The Bank Group’s support through grants, loans and equity investments will be supplemented by the suspension of bilateral debt service, as endorsed by the Bank’s governors. 

“The bilateral debt-service suspension being offered will free up crucial resources for IDA countries to fund emergency responses to COVID-19,” said Malpass adding that“Nations should move quickly to substantially increase the transparency of all their governments’ financial commitments. This will increase the confidence in the investment climate and encourage more beneficial debt and investment in the future.”

The Bank Group’s operations are geared at saving lives, protecting livelihoods, building resilience, and boosting recovery by:

  • Strengthening health systems, monitoring, and prevention, particularly in low-income countries and in fragile and conflict-affected situations. 
  • Scaling up social protection: Supporting businesses and preserving jobs, and
  •  Procuring medical equipment and supplies.