BY DAYO ADESULU
The Board of the African Development Fund on Wednesday approved grants worth $28.233 million to Sudan to shore up the country’s health system to effectively respond and contain the COVID-19 pandemic, mitigate its social and economic impacts and build resilience to future pandemics, including climate-induced outbreaks.
The funding will take the form of an African Development Fund grant of $26.47 million and a $1.764 million grant sourced from the Bank’s Transitional Support Facility Envelope. The grants are being provided under the African Development Bank’s COVID-19 Response Facility.
Under the project, four components will be rolled out at national and regional levels: Strengthening health systems and building resilience to respond to COVID-19 and future epidemics and pandemics; enhancing community engagement and risk communication; strengthening laboratory testing and surveillance; and project management.
The first component will include increasing intensive care units (ICUs), medical equipment and infrastructure and the establishment of isolation centers. The second element will include sensitization and community engagement on mask-wearing and other hygiene practices as well as anti-stigma efforts. The proposed laboratory testing and surveillance interventions include epidemiological surveillance and rapid response, as well as training and adoption of standard testing procedures. The fourth component is for the project’s recruitment, management and administrative functions.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects are expected to undo economic gains the country has made over the last five years as well as slow its economic recovery. Growth in 2020 is projected to contract by as much as 8.9% owing to the pandemic. Sudan also faces a high likelihood of increasing poverty, high youth unemployment and vulnerability to extreme climate events such as drought, desertification, deforestation and flooding.
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The project is aligned with the Government of Sudan’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan as well as the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy, and the High 5 agenda on Improving the Quality of Life for the People of Africa. It complements other COVID-19 response support that the Bank is providing to the East African Community (EAC), the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) under the auspices of the African Union (AU).
“By this approval, The African Development Bank has shown continued commitment to empowering the people of Sudan to contain this pandemic while supporting the government of Sudan’s quest for the economic development of its people”. This according to the Country Manager, Raubil Durowoju.