World Bank Financing Supports Improved Access to Services and Quality of Life in Zanzibar

WASHINGTON: The living conditions of 230,000 urban and rural residents in Zanzibar will improve with increased access to basic infrastructure and services and enhanced institutional capacities of government institutions, as a result of a new International Development Association (IDA*) credit approved by the World Bank.

The $150 million Boosting Inclusive Growth for Zanzibar – Integrated Development (BIG-Z) project will be implemented in both Unguja and Pemba, the islands comprising Zanzibar, and will cover Zanzibar city and selected gateway villages and town councils. It will enhance the capacities of government institutions responsible for urban development and bring benefits to businesses in these areas and the entire population, as well as visitors and investors.

“Our recent poverty assessment for Zanzibar showed that urban development yielded higher returns to economic activities and, together with greater access to basic services and productive assets, contributed to the poverty reduction recently achieved in the isles,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director. “Zanzibar can leverage on this progress with cohesive investments in infrastructure and basic services and strengthened urban-rural linkages to foster inclusive economic growth.”

The BIG-Z Project adopts an area-based integrated development approach to deliver systematic solutions, with the activities organized into four components:

Investments in infrastructure and basic services as well as various support programs to improve the livelihoods of residents in core urban areas, fast-growing urban areas, and towns or villages.
Strengthening institutions for improved urban management and encouraging innovation, focusing on institutional development and capacity building, including municipal finance, information and communication technology, and urban management, as well as enhancing the enabling and regulatory environment for development.
Project management, monitoring and evaluation will finance the direct costs of the management and operation of the project to ensure smooth implementation of activities.
Contingent emergency responses to address situations that may require urgent assistance, considering the increasing climate risks in Zanzibar, particularly the risks of flooding.
“BIG-Z’s activities and physical investments take into consideration the unique context of Zanzibar, including its vulnerability and exposure to climate risks, and all are designed with the purpose of improving the isles’ climate resilience through both mitigation and adaptation,” said Yohannes Kesete, World Bank Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist and Task Team Leader.

The World Bank has supported urban development between 2011 and 2021 in the isles through the Zanzibar Urban Services Project (ZUSP), which has financed urban infrastructure investments, including the construction of over 20km of stormwater drainage, the first sanitary landfill in Zanzibar with 650,000 cubic meter capacity, over 37km of new street lighting installed, and 340m of a sea wall and seaside promenade that revitalized the public space of the Stone Town oceanfront. Feedback from the beneficiaries and communities showed that these investments have been well-received and have helped improve access to basic services, promoting livability and sustainability of urban spaces, and contributing to tourism development and poverty reduction in Zanzibar. The BIG-Z project aims to build on these successes and scale up urban infrastructure investments.

“As population grows rapidly in Zanzibar, peri-urban areas and small towns expand in an unplanned way that makes service delivery even more challenging and reduces livability and quality of life. COVID-19 has exposed additional challenges for many densely populated urban neighborhoods that urgently need to be addressed,” said Qingyun Shen, World Bank Urban Development Specialist, Task Team Leader of ZUSP and co-Task Team Leader of the project.

The five-year BIG-Z project involves multi-sectoral investments that address urban development challenges in a holistic way. “Some of the emblematic interventions under the project will focus on improving mobility and accessibility into and along the Michenzani Corridors and the World Heritage City of Stone Town. The project will contribute towards enabling vibrant and cultural economic activity in Zanzibar city, prioritizing pedestrians and providing safe and secure universal access,” said Catalina Ochoa, World Bank Senior Transport Specialist and co-Task Team Leader of the project.

*The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans 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 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.6 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $21 billion over the last three years, with about 61 percent going to Africa.

 

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