The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund approved on Thursday almost $8.9 million in grants in six Southern African Development Community ( SADC) countries, to finance COVID-19-related control steps. The board also granted São Tomé & Príncipe $683 000 in subsidies in support of the two-island nation’s pandemic response and its effects. The funding is provided under the Response Facility of the Bank, COVID-19.
The funds will support laboratory and medical supplies in Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, all SADC countries, and will include test kits, personal safety equipment and non-invasive ventilators. The recipient and implementing agency of the grant is the SADC Secretariat.
The funding will strengthen the capacity in six beneficiary countries of SADC to coordinate pandemic reaction measures, including monitoring and sensitization. Inadequate tools and skills are needed for the successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already put a strain on vulnerable health systems in the countries of SADC and in São Tomé & Príncipe. “These countries are struggling with the rapidly changing situation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Bank said.
Though COVID-19 spreads gradually in Africa, it still spreads steadily across the continent and leaves economic downturns in its wake and hardship. This pandemic is expected to affect the SADC Member States significantly economically. For example, real GDP is expected to contract in 2020 for all SADC countries, with the exception of Zimbabwe.
The project approved is in line with two priority areas of the Bank:
- Improving the quality of life for Africans and integrating Africa
- SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Mechanism to fight disasters and pandemics
From a continent-wide total of 325,000 cases by 24 June 2020, the 16 nation SADC Region had reported about 120,000 COVID-19 cases. There were about 700 cases reported in São Tomé and Príncipe with an estimated 211,000 inhabitants.
Inputs from the African Development Bank Group (AfDB)