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Mauritania to strengthen its COVID-19 Response

The World Bank Board of Directors approved today a $70 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) to support Mauritania in strengthening the response to the pandemic.

The **Mauritania COVID-19 Emergency Development Policy Operation (DPO) **aims to protect the poor and most vulnerable and lay the foundation for recovery by supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and improving debt transparency. The budget support operation is aligned with the priorities of the Multisectoral Response Plan to COVID-19 developed by the government and the World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework FY18-FY23.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is having significant economic, fiscal and social impacts on the country. This operation will help close the unanticipated financing gap that emerged during the crisis and support the government in strengthening its response. Ultimately, it aims at preserving the livelihood of the population and mitigating the risks for the most vulnerable to fall back into poverty,” *said Laurent Msellati, World Bank Country Manager.

According to the recently released Mauritania Economic Update 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic will have a major impact on the short- and medium-term outlook and GDP growth could plummet from 5.9% in 2019 to between -2% and -6.8% in 2020.

In response to the economic impact of the pandemic, this operation will support reforms that strengthen the institutional capacity of the health sector by facilitating access to medical supplies and supporting availability and affordability of essential food item. It will also help put in place a governance mechanism for the Special Fund of Social Solidarity and Fight against coronavirus and adopt the use of the social registry to ensure an efficient social protection response. In addition, it aims to increase debt transparency by publishing a debt bulletin and improve access to finance for SMEs through a Credit Guarantee Fund. The DPO has been prepared following extensive consultation process involving government officials and development partners.

“More specifically, the DPO supports reforms to ensure accountable and transparent management of COVID-19 emergency spending and to cushion the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable households by expanding the coverage of targeted cash transfers”, indicated Samer Matta, World Bank economist and task team leader.

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