New Delhi: The World Bank approved today an additional financing of $5 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to provide the small island nation of Cabo Verde with affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. This is the first World Bank-financed operation in Africa to support a country’s COVID-19 immunization plan and help with the purchase and distribution of vaccine in alignment with the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility.
This additional financing will support the country’s efforts to purchase and deploy more than 400,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, as well as personal protective equipment including masks and other medical supplies to help ensure an effective vaccination rollout. The project will also finance cold chain equipment and transport, as well as improve health infrastructure to help reopen the country for tourism. It builds on the emergency support provided through the Cabo Verde COVID-19 Emergency Response Project.
“As a second wave of coronavirus is taking a serious toll on African lives and economies, closing down schools and businesses, we are stepping up our efforts to help our countries purchase and distribute vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems,” says Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa. “Cabo Verde has a lot of experience in vaccination campaigns and is well prepared to start vaccine deployment this month. This is a critical step to help secure the future of the people of Cabo Verde, restore jobs and reboot the tourism industry particularly hit by the pandemic”.
The economy has been severely affected by the crisis, with GDP expected to contract by 11% in 2020. The island economy off the coast of West Africa has seen its tourism arrivals drop by 70% in 2020, unemployment reached nearly 20%, and its poverty rate more than doubled from 20% to 45% in the short term. While two thirds of the deaths occur among people over the age of 65, the young and economically active Cabo Verdeans are the most affected by the virus.
“Following months of rigorous work and great collaboration, we are quite pleased that the World Bank has approved this additional financing to help Cabo Verde purchase and distribute vaccines against the COVID 19 virus,” said Dr. Olavo Avelino Garcia Correia, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Finances of Cabo Verde. “This financing is the necessary complement to the wide ranging and prompt measures put in place in Cabo Verde at the onset of the pandemic. We are keen to now ensure that we promptly vaccinate the population so that we can restart economic growth in a more diversified and resilient way”.
To help prepare the National COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, a COVID-19 vaccine readiness assessment was conducted by the Government of Cabo Verde with support from the World Bank, the World Health Organizations (WHO) and the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The assessment showed that preparations are well underway, the legal framework and identification process of the target population are in place, and Cabo Verde is now eligible to make use of the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (COVAX-AMC) as the main mechanism for purchasing vaccines.
In response to the pandemic, the World Bank Group in Cabo Verde responded swiftly and focused on three main areas to: save lives, protect the poor and build back better. As part of the health response, a $5 million emergency health operation and an additional $940,000 grant through the Pandemic Emergency Facility (PEF) helped procure essential medical equipment. In addition, a $10 million Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Operations (CAT DDOs) was triggered to help close the fiscal financing gap unlocked by the economic shock and health response. To protect the most vulnerable, $3 million was reallocated through the Social Inclusion project and an additional financing of $10 million was approved to provide emergency cash transfers to additional families in distress. The Education and the Skills Development Enhancement project also helped purchase tablets and televisions to ensure remote learning during the lockdown. To reboot the economy, an additional financing through the access to Finance for Micro, Small, and Medium Sized Enterprises COVID-19 project is supporting small and medium enterprises to access credit. An additional $25 million was also recently approved to strengthen fiscal resilience and reform State Own Enterprises.
The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems. The financing builds on the broader World Bank Group COVID-19 response, which is helping more than 100 countries strengthen health systems, support the poorest households, and create supportive conditions to maintain livelihoods and jobs for those hit hardest.