he fight against Covid-19 pandemic received a huge boost last week after the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a US $9.52 million donor aid to enhance coordinated response against Covid-19 in East and Horn of Africa and the Comoros.
This grant was part of the US $10 billion COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility (CRF) approved by the Board of Directors in April 2020 and complements the Bank’s direct support to regional member countries across the continent.
The beneficiaries of this kitty include Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The funding will also go toward the procurement of essential medical supplies, including testing kits and to train health workers.
“The funds will be used to bolster health systems and disease surveillance, enhance infection prevention and control, and improve regional coordination by the East African Community (EAC) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to contain cross-border transmissions,” a statement from the bank’s communication department said.
“The overall objective of the operation is to reduce the incidence and mortality in the Eastern African region due to COVID-19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks,” Martha Phiri, Director for Human and Social Development said.
The EAC Secretariat will receive $8.79 million in tranches of $8.16 million and $629,582 while $729, 581 will go to IGAD. The World Health Organization (WHO) will be the implementing agency for the emergency response activities in the EAC and IGAD member states, and the Comoros, while the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) will be directly responsible for executing the cross-border interventions.
Countries in Eastern and the Horn of Africa are enforcing stringent border crossing measures to mitigate the cross-border transmissions that have led to disruptions in the movement of people, trade flows and access to essential goods.
The project will, therefore, tackle these challenges by improving testing and case detection capacity at border crossings and improving regional coordination.
The Project will also support EAC and IGAD to roll out regional COVID-19 digital tracking systems to facilitate cross-border surveillance. This will make the regional bodies better prepared to counter cross-border transmissions during future pandemics.
The grants align with the Bank’s High 5 priority commitments, specifically to improving the quality of life for the people of Africa, and to advancing regional integration. The financing also strongly aligns with the Eastern Africa Regional Strategy Paper, which calls for enhanced cooperation in managing regional public goods.
As of 28 June, total confirmed cases in the 11 mainland countries of the region stood at 42,000, while the island nation of Comoros reported 265 cases out of a population of 800,000.