Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The World Bank has approved a grant of US$21.99 million to help Sudan mitigate the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Sudan said here Tuesday.
This is a significant step for Sudan which has been on a debt blacklist over its US$60 billion owed foreign lenders.
The bank said of the total amount provided, US$6.5 million is provided by the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Trust Fund (HEPRTF) and US$15.49 million by the Sudan Transition and Recovery Support Trust Fund (STARS).
“The Sudanese government has made significant efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and has put in place a plan to mobilize resources. We are glad to support these efforts and we are committed to help the government in addressing some of the remaining challenges, such as lack of adequate capacity and delays in implementation,” said Dione.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented social and economic impact on Sudan, including increased prices of basic foods, rising unemployment, and falling exports.
The crisis has also highlighted the importance of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene practices, which remain inadequate. The outbreak is anticipated to further challenge the county’s public health preparedness and response systems and adversely impact the economy.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very pleased to partner with the World Bank and other development partners in this important project, which will bring great benefits to the people of Sudan,” said Mohammed Aljadaan, minister of Finance.
Saudi Arabia contributed some US$10 million of the funds.
The World Bank keeps a small lending portfolio of just US$130 million in Sudan and has been calling upon the Sudan to clear its arrears with other foreign lenders to be eligible for debt relief.
Lending to Sudan as well as transactions with foreign companies have mostly been affected by the international sanctions against Sudan, including Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The COVID-19 Emergency Response Project aims to develop measures to mitigate the devastating effects of COVID-19 by supporting Sudan’s National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19.
It will enable the country to better prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by the pandemic.
Furthermore, the project aims to further improve the government’s capacity by using the country’s existing systems and providing the required technical assistance for local health institutions at the federal and state levels.
The HEPRTF was set up earlier this year to provide incentives to low-income countries to increase investments in health preparedness and support the immediate COVID-19 response.
After an initial contribution of US$100 million from the government of Japan, Sudan is the first country to receive funding from the HEPRTF.
-0- PANA AO/RA 6Oct2020