Washington — The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors has approved support to Guinea-Bissau to continue community-driven development in rural areas and to preserve and expand essential health and education services for the country's poorest people.
The funds are part of the World Bank's emergency response to the recent crisis in Guinea-Bissau, and are expected to extend the reach of the existing Rural Community-Driven Development Project to cover 76,500 people, half of whom are women, by 2017.
The new IDA* grant of US$15 million will help Guinea-Bissau to prepare community development plans in at least two new regions, increasing the number covered from four to six.
These plans will cover micro-projects that increase people's access to rural roads and water, even during a time of severe crisis in the country. It will also temporarily finance the salaries of teachers and health workers in all nine regions between January and June 2014, to prevent further interruption of basic services as a result of the crisis.
"Guinea Bissau's health indicators are disconcerting and the disease burden is high. In education, service is equally poor and the crisis has disrupted recent school years," said Vera Songwe, World Bank Country Director for Guinea-Bissau.
"Our ongoing support for the Rural Community-Driven Development Project will allow thousands of poor families to have uninterrupted access to critical health services and schooling for their children, contributing to peace during the country's recovery period."
By the end of 2013, 120 community development plans were finalized in both rural and urban communities as a result of the project. Of the 152 community-based micro-projects initiated, 90 have already been completed, including the construction of 62 water points and about 35 km of feeder roads, and the construction or rehabilitation of 19 schools and 63 classrooms.
As a result of these activities, about 5,000 more children are now enrolled in school and 20,000 people in rural areas have access to an improved water source. In addition, road works completed under the project have served over 11,000 people, increasing farmers' access to markets.
"When health and education services are interrupted, the impact of these losses lasts for decades and is one of the reasons that people can remain trapped in poverty," said Philippe Auffret, World Bank Task Team Leader.
"So it's not just about today--keeping up services for poor people helps families be more productive and earn more income in the long run, as children grow into healthy and educated adults."
"I look forward to the scaling-up of this project which has already benefitted thousands of women and children living in poverty in Guinea-Bissau," said Ana Besarabic, Senior Operations Officer working on the project. "Among other things, today's funds will help the country address a recent resurgence of cholera by improving access to clean water and health services."
With the new financing, the Rural Community-Driven Development Project, which already has strong implementing capacity, will continue operations until the end of 2017, helping the country's poorest families to continue investing in their children, and to gain access to economic opportunities that have been severely limited in recent times.
* The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing loans (called "credits") and grants 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 82 poorest countries, 40 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries.
Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.