Boost for Somalia’s COVID-19, floods fight as WB okays $137m grant

Somalia’s fight against COVID-19 and ongoing floods received a boost Saturday following a World Bank approval of a $137 million grant.

The World Bank said the funding would cover COVID-19 efforts and adverse weather conditions such as floods which have displaced over 300,000 people in the last one month.

“The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a $137.5 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to help Somalia respond to and recover from multiple, ongoing, and overlapping crises,” a statement from the Bank read in part.

World Bank Country Director for Somalia, Felipe Jaramillo said Somalia’s resumption of relations with international creditors now enables it to access the much-needed funding to respond to emerging threats such as COVID-19.

“Thanks to Government-led reform of institutions and public finance, Somalia now has access to IDA, including the Crisis Response Window, and is able to respond in a timely manner,” said Jaramillo.

COVID-19  FIGHT

The Bank said $20.5 million of the total amount will be used to reinforced the fight against COVID-19.

The funds come at a critical moment Somalia is fighting a global pandemic, displacements of thousands by floods and a persistent food crisis.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said this week over 850,000 people had been affected by the floods which have hit the riverine zones in central and southern Somalia. Over 300,000 have been displaced with the most affected being Beletweyne in HirShabelle state.

The twin challenge of COVID-19 has also stretched Somalia’s capacity to respond as over 1200 people have contracted the disease and over 50 dying according to official reports. Medics have warned the numbers could be way higher.

Finance Minister Abdirahman Beileh hailed the move by the World Bank noting it will go a long way in establishing sustainable solutions.

“FGS sees this project as a key opportunity for effectively addressing a humanitarian-developmental transition and laying the foundation for the implementation of a longer-term investment in the recovery and development of the country,” said Beileh.

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