The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Board of Directors on Friday, July 24, approved a UA 38.15 million ($53.25 million) multi-country grant to The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the form of direct budget support to bolster efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the three West African countries.
According to an AfDB release, the grant from the African Development Fund (ADF), aims to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the three anglophone West African countries — known collectively as the GLS countries — by providing budget support to help fund each country’s COVID-19 crisis response.
The multi-country grant comprises an ADF grant of UA 5 million and a TSF grant of UA 5 million to the Republic of The Gambia; an ADF grant of UA 10.15 million to the Republic of Liberia; and an ADF grant of UA 18 million to the Republic of Sierra Leone.
UA is the official currency for the AfDB projects.
According to the AfDB, Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone are countries in “transition,” with similar challenges regarding macroeconomic stability, fragility, competitiveness and growth. Liberia and Sierra Leone were severely impacted by the Ebola pandemic between 2014 and 2016, while The Gambia is undergoing a transition after the departure of President Yahya Jammeh in 2016.
Upon declaration of first cases of COVID-19 in the three countries in March, all three countries took urgent steps to put in place contingency plans to prevent and contain the virus, the AfDB said. However, infection cases have been on the rise. As of 22 July, there were 146 confirmed cases in The Gambia; 1,114 cases in Liberia; and 1,731 cases in Sierra Leone.
The direct beneficiaries of programs financed by the grant will include vulnerable female-headed households, orphans, and school-going children. The business community, and targeted small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, will benefit from economic resilience support, while the population at large will be cushioned against the effects of the pandemic.
The multi-country grant falls under the framework of the Bank’s COVID-19 Response Facility of up to $10 billion, the institution’s main channel to cushion African countries from the economic and health impacts of the crisis.