By Adedapo Adesanya
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $53.3 million multi-country grant to the transitioning countries of Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the form of direct budget support to bolster efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the three West African countries.
The loan approved by the bank’s Board of Directors was from the African Development Fund (ADF) and aims to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone – known collectively as the GLS countries – by providing budget support to help fund each country’s COVID-19 crisis response.
The multi-country credit facility comprises an ADF grant of UA 5 million and a TSF grant of UA 5 million to the Republic of The Gambia; an ADF grant of UA 10.15 million to the Republic of Liberia; and an ADF grant of UA 18 million to the Republic of Sierra Leone.
According to the bank, Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone are countries in “transition,” with similar challenges regarding macroeconomic stability, fragility, competitiveness and growth.
Liberia and Sierra Leone were severely impacted by the Ebola pandemic between 2014 and 2016, while The Gambia is undergoing a transition after the departure of President Yahya Jammeh in 2016.
Upon declaration of first cases of COVID-19 in the three countries in March, they took urgent steps to put in place contingency plans to prevent and contain the virus but cases continue to rise, limiting the ability for households to provide.
The direct beneficiaries of programmes financed by the grant will include vulnerable female-headed households, orphans, and school-going children. The business community, and targeted small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, will benefit from economic resilience support, while the population at large will be cushioned against the effects of the pandemic.
The multi-country grant falls under the framework of the Bank’s COVID-19 Response Facility of up to $10 billion, the institution’s main channel to cushion African countries from the economic and health impacts of the crisis.
UA is the official currency for the AfDB projects. 1 UA = 1 SDR (International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights).
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