AT Monitoring Desk
KABUL: The World Bank Board on Friday approved a $200 million grant to help Afghanistan mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and provide relief to vulnerable people and businesses, the bank said in a statement.
The Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant comprises $100 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and $100 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors, the statement added.
The Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant will support the government of Afghanistan to strengthen policies that promote faster recovery and keep basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, and telecommunications afloat and running.
“The program will provide vital fiscal resources to manage the impacts of the pandemic in the context of rapidly slowing economic growth and declining government revenues,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan. “Policy actions supported by the program will both help mitigate the impacts of the current crisis on the poor and vulnerable and also lay critical foundations for longer-term recovery. The World Bank will continue to stand with the people of Afghanistan through this crisis.”
The grant will support changes in regulations to increase access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, protect healthcare workers, and raise awareness on gender-based violence in schools, the statement said. It will also support plans to encourage students to return to school when educational institutions are to reopen after the COVID-19 crisis.
Afghanistan has 34,194 confirmed covid-19 cases since the start of the outbreak in the country almost three months ago. 971 patients have lost their lives battling the virus so far.