World Bank announces initial US$12b to assist countries impacted by COVID-19


The World Bank Group is making available an initial package of up to US$12 billion in immediate support to assist countries coping with the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

In a statement today, it said the financing is designed to help member countries take effective action to respond to and where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by the global outbreak.

“Through this new fast track package, the World Bank Group will help developing countries strengthen health systems including better access to health services to safeguard people from the epidemic, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions, and work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies.

“The financial package, with financing drawn from across The International Development Association (IDA),  the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), will be globally coordinated to support country-based responses,” it said.

World Bank said the COVID-19 support package would make available initial crisis resources of up to US$12 billion in financing – US$8 billion of which is new, on a fast track basis.

This, it said, comprises up to US$2.7 billion new financing from IBRD; US$1.3 billion from IDA, complemented by reprioritisation of US$2 billion of the Bank’s existing portfolio; and US$6 billion from IFC, including US$2 billion from existing trade facilities.

It will also include policy advice and technical assistance drawing on global expertise and country-level knowledge, the bank said.

Its president David Malpass said the bank is working to provide a fast, flexible response based on developing country needs in dealing with the spread of COVID-19.

“This includes emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance, building on the World Bank Group’s existing instruments and expertise to help countries respond to the crisis,” he said.

According to World Bank, the financial package will provide grants and low-interest loans from IDA for low income countries and loans from IBRD for middle income countries, using all of the bank’s operational instruments with processing accelerated on a fast track basis.

“The World Bank support will cover a range of interventions to strengthen health services and primary health care, bolster disease monitoring and reporting, train front line health workers, encourage community engagement to maintain public trust, and improve access to treatment for the poorest patients.

“The bank will also provide policy and technical advice to ensure countries can access global expertise,” it added.

World Bank said that IFC will work with commercial bank clients to expand trade finance and working capital lines, as well as directly support its corporate clients, with a focus on strategic sectors including medical equipment and pharmaceuticals to sustain supply chains and limit downside risks.

It said the solutions will leverage the lessons learned from similar events in the past with a goal to minimise the negative economic and social impacts of COVID-19 globally. 

“Countries face different levels of risk and vulnerability to COVID-19, and will require different levels of support.

“The Bank Group support will prioritise the poorest countries and those at high risk with low capacity. As the spread of COVID-19 and its impact continues to evolve, the World Bank Group will adapt its approach and resources as needed,” it said.