$200m pandemic response pact signed with WB

Published April 4, 2020
‘Pandemic Response Effective Project’ will be for social protection measures, food and remote learning education. — AFP/File
‘Pandemic Response Effective Project’ will be for social protection measures, food and remote learning education. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the World Bank on Friday signed a $200 million ‘Pandemic Response Effective Project’ (PREP) that will help the poor and vulnerable cope with the immediate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic through social protection measures, food rations and remote learning education.

The board of executive directors of World Bank earlier approved the $200 million package to help Pakistan take effective and timely action to respond to the coronavirus pandemic by strengthening the country’s national healthcare systems and mitigating socio-economic disruptions.

The bank’s support will also draw on extra $38 million from eight existing projects for urgently needed medical equipment and supplies. Procurement of equipment and supplies by federal and provincial governments is under way and some equipment and supplies have arrived and being pressed into service, a World Bank press release says.

Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar witnessed the signing ceremony through a video link in Islamabad. Secretary, Economic Affairs Division, Dr Syed Pervaiz Abbas signed the financing agreement on behalf of the government, while provincial project agreements were signed by the designated officials of provincial governments. World Bank Country Director Patchamuthu Illangovan signed the agreement for the bank.

‘Pandemic Response Effective Project’ will be for social protection measures, food rations and remote learning education

The project is financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional credit window for developing countries, in the amount of $200 million, of which $100 million is provided through the World Bank Group’s Covid-19 Fast-Track Facility. The World Bank Group is rolling out a $14 billion fast-track package to strengthen the Covid-19 response in developing countries and shorten the time to recovery.

PREP will help establish quarantine facilities in collaboration with public and private hospitals and also supply equipment to hospitals, including ventilators and Personal Protection Equipment for doctors and paramedics. The project will benefit infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel, service providers in medical and testing facilities (both public and private), and national and provincial departments of health.

The scope of the project will be nationwide, covering all provinces and territories of the country. The primary project beneficiaries will be infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel as well as service providers at medical and testing facilities, both public and private, and national and provincial departments of health. Staff of key technical departments and provincial health departments will also benefit from the project as their capabilities increase through the strengthened institutional capacity.

The primary target groups for the support to mitigate socioeconomic impacts are expected to be: affected households with high vulnerability to shocks, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable who tend to have limited assets and other mechanisms to protect themselves from shocks (bottom 20 of the distribution); and households who are affected due to mobility restrictions such as quarantine centres that disrupt their ability to meet basic needs.

Households may benefit from multiple interventions under the project which include emergency cash transfers to up to four million families enrolled in the safety programme across the country; emergency food supply for quarantined populations; and children’s learning activities by ensuring remote learning sessions through broadcast — to minimise the Covid-19 emergency effects on children’s and youth learning.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2020

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