Global Concessional Financing Facility announces funding for three new projects focused on strengthening health services and basic infrastructure
WASHINGTON, April 21, 2017 – The Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) announced funding for three new projects today, bringing the total of concessional financing unlocked by the Facility to support Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon to US$1 billion. The new projects aim to improve the lives of Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them by expanding vital public health services in both Jordan and Lebanon, as well as strengthening critical wastewater infrastructure in Jordan. The Facility will also have additional grants to leverage for further concessional financing following the announcement of up to 60 million British pounds from the United Kingdom to catalyze concessional finance from multilateral development banks, part of which will channel through the GCFF, and a $10 million pledge from Sweden.
In one year since its launch, the GCFF has approved nearly US$200 million in grants to leverage five times that amount in concessional financing for seven projects in Jordan and Lebanon. The most recent funding was approved at the second meeting of the GCFF Steering Committee on Thursday on the margins of the World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings. The new funding will lower interest rates to concessional levels on two US$150 million health projects in Jordan and Lebanon, both of which will be financed in parallel by the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank Group, as well as a US$45 million wastewater project in Jordan to be financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The new projects will be subject to the approval of the Boards of the respective institutions.
“Jordan is honored to have provided refuge for so many Syrians, but it has come at a cost,” said Imad Fakhoury, Jordanian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation. “We cannot let our basic services and infrastructure be overwhelmed, as Jordanians and Syrians alike would suffer. With the support of the Facility, we now have the long term financing we need to more affordably build our resilience by expanding basic services and strengthening infrastructure.”
The additional pledges were announced at a high-level panel on the GCFF today by Mark Lowcock, the Permanent Secretary of the UK’s Department for International Development, and Swedish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate Isabella Lövin. The new pledges will unlock around $350 million in concessional financing for Jordan and Lebanon, which host more refugees in relation to the size of their populations than any other country in the world. However, as middle income countries they shoulder the resulting financial burden without access to concessional financing. To fill this gap in humanitarian and development assistance, the World Bank Group, in partnership with the United Nations and Islamic Development Bank Group, launched the Facility at last year’s Spring Meetings. Each US$1 in grants contributed to the GCFF can leverage US$4-5 in concessional financing for development projects that benefit refugees and the communities that host them. Since its launch, the Facility has received contributions from nine countries - Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States - as well as the European Commission.
“We know first-hand that hosting large numbers of refugees is a development as much as a humanitarian challenge,” said Ghassan Hasbani, Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health. “Our humanitarian partners have provided critical support, but they cannot meet all demands. The Facility has built valuable partnerships that allow us to look at the bigger picture and lay the foundations for coping with the current crisis while continuing to grow and create opportunities for the longer-term.”
In addition to the new funding, the GCFF is supporting a US$300 million project in Jordan to promote investment and job creation for both Jordanians and Syrian refugees. As a result of reforms supported by the project, more than 40,000 Syrian refugees have already received work permits. Two other projects in Jordan have received GCFF funding, including a US$48 million project to strengthen wastewater infrastructure and a US$250 million project to improve the management and delivery of water and electricity. In Lebanon, the GCFF is helping fund a US$200 million roads and employment project that aims to connect less developed regions with centers of economic activity, while also creating construction jobs for Lebanese workers and Syrian refugees.
“For the last six years, Jordan and Lebanon have been providing a global public good by hosting millions of Syrian refugees,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa. “This Facility provides an open platform for donor countries and humanitarian and development organizations to come together and deliver the holistic support that Jordan and Lebanon need and deserve. For their sake, and for the future of Syria and the region, we must build on this momentum.”
The GCFF has now secured over US$370 million in donor pledges in its first year, establishing a solid basis for reaching its five-year funding plan of raising US$1 billion in grants to support Jordan and Lebanon, and an additional US$500 million for potential future refugee crises in middle income countries across the globe. Reaching its fundraising goal of US$1.5 billion would allow the GCFF to provide more than US$6 billion in much-needed concessional financing to support refugees and their host communities.
“No single country or organization can successfully address a large-scale refugee crisis on its own,” said Franck Bousquet, World Bank Director for Regional Programs and Partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa. “Responding effectively requires forging strong partnerships that adapt and innovate to meet the evolving nature of the challenge. These principles are at the heart of the GCFF, which, beyond innovative financing, uses strong partnership with the UN to bridge the humanitarian-development divide, and an open platform to coordinate and leverage the efforts of multilateral development banks to better address the refugee crisis.”