The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors yesterday approved a total of US$30 million to support Liberia’s medium-term strategy to strengthen its transparency and accountability mechanisms, expand the economy, increase access to quality education and improve health services that are critical to fighting the current Ebola epidemic.
The financing, which is expected to support the Second Poverty Reduction Support Operation (PRSDPO II), includes a US$20 million International Development Association (IDA) credit and a US$10 million grant allocated from the World Bank Group’s IDA Crisis Response Window. The IDA is designed to help low-income [poorest] countries respond to exceptionally severe crises in a timely, transparent and predictable way.
Reacting to the news on Thursday, Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Mr. Amara M. Konneh, thanked the World Bank Group for its partnership with Liberia, particularly during this difficult period for the country.
“We welcome this much needed budget support which we will use to finance our budget deficit due to declining revenues and increasing expenditures caused by the impact of the Ebola virus disease on the Liberian economy,” said Minister Konneh. “This budget support from the World Bank will also help keep our development agenda on track to maintain macroeconomic stability.”
The World Bank has declared the PRSDPO II will support the implementation of Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) called the Agenda for Transformation (AfT), a medium-term strategy, in the context of Liberia’s long-term vision plan, which aims to transform the post-conflict economy into a more prosperous and inclusive society, and help the country to achieve middle-income country status by 2030.
“Liberia has made significant progress in reducing poverty after a history of conflict, but the country is now faced with heightened challenges brought on by the Ebola epidemic,” said Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Country Manager for Liberia. “The operation will continue to support the government’s poverty reduction strategy and foster an environment to bring much needed jobs and education to the Liberian people across the country. It will also help enhance access to basic health services,” she said.
More specifically, the PRSDPO II calls for steps to increase transparency and accountability throughout the government to reduce corruption and to expand the economy by providing credit to farmers and by resolving constraints to infrastructure growth—including lack of human resources and financing. The operation will also help improve access to, and the quality of, education and health services.
“By improving access to education, as well as addressing infrastructure and credit constraints, this operation would help prepare Liberian workers, especially the youth, for productive employment and give them access to more jobs,” said Errol George Graham, Task Team Leader for the project. “We also are happy to support the government in its efforts to strengthen health service delivery during this period of crisis and beyond.”
The World Bank Group is mobilizing nearly US$1 billion in financing for the countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis.
This includes more than US$500 million for the emergency response and to help speed up the deployment of foreign health workers to the countries, and at least US$450 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to enable trade, investment and employment in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The US$10 million approved on Thursday as part of the PRSDPO II is part of previous pledges from the Bank Group for the emergency response to Ebola.
The Ebola epidemic, centered in West Africa, has infected more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000.
The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which was 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 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.
Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people living on less than US$2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development works in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about US$18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.