The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved $1.9 billion first set of emergency support operations for developing countries around the world, using a dedicated, fast-track facility for COVID-19 (coronavirus) response.
However, the global financial powerhouse excluded Nigeria from the list of the 25 countries to benefit from the support.
The organization said that the decision was reached by the board on Thursday and it was prepared to deploy about $160 billion in the next 15 months with a view to helping countries deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and quick economic recovery.
A statement by the bank said, “The World Bank Group is prepared to deploy up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to support COVID-19 measures that will help countries respond to immediate health consequences of the pandemic and bolster economic recovery.
The broader economic programme will aim to shorten the time to recovery, create conditions for growth, support small and medium enterprises, and help protect the poor and vulnerable. There will be a strong poverty focus in these operations, with an emphasis on policy-based financing, and protecting the poorest households and the environment.”
The bank’s president, David Malpass, was quoted as saying, “The World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we already have health response operations moving forward in over 65 countries.
We are working to strengthen developing nations’ ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and shorten the time to economic and social recovery. The poorest and most vulnerable countries will likely be hit the hardest, and our teams around the world remain focused on country-level and regional solutions to address the ongoing crisis.”
According to the bank, “new operations are moving forward in over 40 countries using the fast-track process.”
It said that it was working to redeploy resources in existing World Bank-financed projects worth up to $1.7 billion, including through restructuring, use of emergency components of existing projects (CERCs) and triggering of CAT DDOs and spanning every region.
Responding to widespread supply chain disruptions, the bank said it was also helping countries access critically needed medical supplies by reaching out to suppliers on behalf of governments.
It said that it was equally encouraging other global bodies to provide financial support to developing countries for the COVID-19 health response.
“This fast response package will save lives and help detect, prevent and respond to COVID-19 in the countries we serve,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations.
“Our country operations will be coordinated at a global level to ensure best practice is quickly shared, including approaches to strengthen national health systems and prepare for potential follow-on waves of this devastating virus.”
Only Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are to benefit from the initial $1. 9bn response.
$82 million will help Ethiopia address critical needs for COVID-19 preparedness and response, including the provision of vital medical equipment, health system capacity-building, and support to establish treatment centres.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, $47 million will provide immediate support to put in place containment strategies, train medical staff and provide equipment to ensure rapid case detection and contact tracing.