Zimbabwe Gets US$7M COVID-19 Lifeline From the World Bank

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Zimbabwe will get $7 million from the World Bank to fight the coronavirus pandemic despite being in arrears with the Washington-based lender.

The lender will mobilize $5 million from its Global Financing Facility Trust Fund to support the nation’s health response to the outbreak and redirect about $2 million from its ongoing Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project to support affected communities, a World Bank spokesperson said in an emailed response to questions.

The support will come from the bank’s trust funds and partners because Zimbabwe isn’t current on its debt-service obligations with the institution and therefore can’t access funds through its regular financing channels, the lender said.

“We recognize this is a global crisis that impacts every country and we cannot leave anyone behind,” the World Bank said. Its existing multi-donor Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund technical assistance program is also now focused on supporting the government’s emergency-response efforts, it said.

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube wrote to multilateral lenders, including the International Monetary Fund, seeking assistance April 2. More than half of the population needs food aid, the economy collapsed even before the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic and the country’s health service is in tatters, he said.