Tunis/Tunisia — The World Bank (WB)'s global response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been designed to help save lives and livelihoods for the poorest and most vulnerable while safeguarding the prospects for sustainable growth in developing countries.
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the Bank's support is helping countries respond to immediate needs arising from the pandemic including securing vaccines while simultaneously strengthening health, education, and social protection systems, the WB said in a press release issued Monday.
"In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, new commitments in MENA totaled US$3.98 billion from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which supports middle-income countries; US$658 million from the International Development Association, the Bank's fund for the world's poorest countries; and US$114 million for the Palestinian Authority," the press release reads.
In Tunisia, the Bank provided US$300 million for cash transfers for approximately one million vulnerable households and over 100,000 children.
The Bank also approved support worth US$100 million for COVID-19 vaccination programmes in Tunisia.
This year, the World Bank approved 35 new operations in the MENA region, including those focused on the COVID-19 response - across health, business and social safety net systems - as well as those focused on climate-smart investments for a resilient recovery.
«The pandemic has put the region's already strained resilience to the test and has taken a devastating toll on people across MENA. It has also heightened the urgency for decisionmakers to undertake further reforms to address long-standing development challenges in their countries,» said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa.
«The World Bank's response is helping countries and their people cope with the ongoing health, social, and economic impacts of the crisis, but much more needs to be done. We remain committed to working with countries in the region as they continue to combat the pandemic and address their immediate priorities in climate mitigation and water resources management to forge a green, resilient, and inclusive development path,» he added.
The impact of the pandemic on the region has been exacerbated by other crises, such as volatile oil prices and growing unrest and fragility in some countries.