THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $53.25 million multi-country grant to The 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 grant from the African Development Fund (ADF), 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.
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. However, infection cases have been on the rise. As of 22 July, there were 146 confirmed cases in The Gambia; 1,114 cases in Liberia; and 1,731 cases in Sierra Leone.
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 $10bn, the institution’s main channel to cushion African countries from the economic and health impacts of the crisis.