World Bank lends $7m to ailing Zimbabwe to fight Covid-19
It will get $5m from the World Bank’s global financing facility trust and $2m from funds meant to help Zimbabwe recover from the 2019 cyclone
Harare — The World Bank will grant $7m to Zimbabwe to help it fight the new coronavirus outbreak that is expected to worsen an already struggling economy and food crisis, a bank spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe is more than $1.2bn in arrears to the World Bank, African Development Bank and European Investment Bank, making it ineligible for funding or debt forgiveness from global lenders.
The World Bank spokesperson said that while Zimbabwe and other countries indebted to the lender could not access regular financing, they could get money from its trust funds to fight the coronavirus that has slowed down the global economy.
“The bank's senior management has underlined the need for additional trust fund financing to ensure that Zimbabwe and the small group of other countries in arrears can receive support as part of our global effort to help countries respond to the COVID-19 crisis,” the spokesperson said.
Zimbabwe would get $5m from the World Bank's global financing facility trust and another $2m would be diverted from funds meant to help the country recover from a devastating cyclone in 2019.
“We recognise this is a global crisis that impacts every country and we cannot leave anyone behind in our response,” the spokesperson said.
Zimbabwe’s finance minister wrote to the International Monetary Fund and other lenders in April warning that the country was being driven towards a health and economic catastrophe by the coronavirus pandemic because its debt arrears meant it could not access foreign financing.
The country has recorded only 34 cases and four deaths from the coronavirus but analysts say its fragile health system will not be able to handle any surge in infections.