The World Bank is delivering record levels of support to clients, making available up to US$160 billion over a 15-month period ending in June 2021, to protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. In the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region, emergency operations have been approved under the COVID-19 fast-track facility in a number of countries, including Cambodia, Mongolia, the Philippines, among others. These operations provide emergency financing for the purchase of medical and laboratory supplies, training of medical staff, and strengthening national public health systems based on country needs.
The World Bank is also working with countries to restructure existing projects to fight the COVID-19 pandemic by reallocating funds, triggering emergency components of existing projects, and activating Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Options (CAT DDOs).
In a second phase of the COVID-19 response, the Bank is working with countries to strengthen social protection measures for the poor and vulnerable, support businesses and safeguard jobs, and advance the reforms needed to shorten the time to recovery and build conditions for broad-based and sustainable growth.
To provide relief for vulnerable populations, low- and middle-income countries need fair, broad, and fast access to effective and safe vaccines. That is why the World Bank is building on its initial COVID-19 response with US$12 billion to help countries purchase and distribute vaccines, tests, and treatments, including financing for Mongolia and the Philippines.
Health and Education
The World Bank supports Vietnam’s efforts to provide quality, affordable health care services for all citizens. In the northern part of Vietnam, 13.7 million people—many of them from remote areas—have better access to quality health care. The Northeast and Red River Delta Regions Health System Support Project improved the treatment capacity of 74 public hospitals at the district and provincial levels by investing in upgrading the medical infrastructure and training health workers. Key interventions in five areas of cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, oncology, and trauma (surgery) are now available at these hospitals, obviating the needs for patients to seek care at tertiary hospitals far away from home.
In Indonesia, the World Bank supports the government’s Family Hope Program, which strives to end the cycle of poverty among the poorest. Family development sessions and learning materials are also provided to beneficiary mothers so that they can gain a better understanding of health and nutrition, good parenting practices, child protection, and financial management. In 2017, the program assisted 3.5 million families in improving their children’s education and health as shown by several impact evaluations. Since then, the government has expanded the program significantly in both coverage and benefit levels; in 2020, the program reached 10 million poor and vulnerable families.
The Improving Primary Education Outcomes for the Most Vulnerable Children in Rural Mongolia Project, funded by the Japan Social Development Fund, introduced a home-based school preparation program for herders’ children living in remote rural areas. The level of school readiness of the children enrolled in the program has been significantly higher than of those enrolled in other alternative preschool education programs. In addition, mobile toy and book libraries have been established in 30 soums (districts), giving parents the opportunity to borrow and use high-quality education materials with their children at home. Extracurricular after-school programs, developed under the project, are helping primary grade rural children better adapt to school and dormitory environments. Overall, more than 7,500 children between 5-10 years, 15,000 parents, as well as 500 teachers and soum officials have benefitted from the project.
Social Protection and Jobs
In Solomon Islands, the Community Access and Urban Services Enhancement (CAUSE) project is improving basic infrastructure and services for vulnerable, urban populations in the country. The project prioritizes skills training, short-term job opportunities and income generation. Despite the constraints imposed by COVID-19, the project benefited about 11,000 households across three provinces by June 2020. In the same period, 2,160 infrastructure and service delivery workers had been trained and 111,600 labor days created (of which 50% went to women and 44% to youth), with each participant working an average of 30 days.
The project funds the creation of key community infrastructure such as bridges, roads, and waste disposal systems that require little maintenance, ensuring that future generations have secure access to basic services.
The project’s results demonstrate that a grassroots-level, community-based work approach combined with training and work experience can generate immediate and visible results for the most vulnerable. It improves economic opportunities and benefits entire communities through a more development-oriented approach aimed at improving service delivery in urban areas.
In the Pacific, the World Bank has been supporting governments of the Pacific region since 2011 to increase the affordability, reliability and quality of information and communication and technology (ICT) access, through the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program (PRCP). The first phase in Tonga has delivered significant benefits for more than 101,000 people – close to the entire population of the Pacific Island kingdom. The project has reduced the average retail cost of broadband internet by 97%, reduced the average per-minute cost of international phone calls by 37%, delivered significantly lower wholesale broadband prices through assistance on the development of stronger legislation, and constructed a 1,217-kilometer network of submarine fiber-optic cables, connecting Tonga and Fiji, and Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu to Ha’apai and Vava’u.
Conflict and Fragility
In the Philippines, the Bank’s assistance has also extended to conflict-affected areas in the country, helping support better governance, access to services, jobs creation, and enhanced citizen security and justice. Supported by a range of development partners, the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) aims to improve prospects for peace and development in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. The Reconstruction and Development Projects, Phase II and III (RDP/2 and RDP/3), funded by the MTF, have improved social and economic recovery, promoted social cohesion and participatory governance through a community driven development approach in conflict affected areas of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. A total of 30 community infrastructures, 45 livelihood skills trainings, and functional literacy classes in 15 conflict-affected communities were implemented. With these, nearly 30,000 people now benefit from clean water, better roads, more post-harvest facilities, and better access to farming and fishing equipment. The MTF’s implementation and design is in close coordination and collaboration with the regional ministries with the aim of mainstreaming the good practices of RDP/2 and RDP/3. Participation of Indigenous Peoples, women, persons with disabilities, and youth were targeted to ensure inclusion.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, RDP/3 also supported the construction of health stations across six communities servicing around 13,000 individuals. These facilities provide communities in geographically isolated areas the necessary medical care and services such as isolation facilities, and in the longer term also birthing room, midwife station, small pharmacy and basic medical equipment.
Water and Sanitation
In Indonesia, the PAMSIMAS (Penyediaan Air Minum dan Sanitasi Berbasis Masyarakat or Community Based Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation) program has helped Indonesia’s low-income rural and peri-urban population, spread across almost 23,000 villages, by providing improved water supply to 17.2 million people – with 84% of the water supply systems well managed and financed for cost recovery – and access to better sanitation facilities for 15.4 million people.
In Vietnam, the Coastal Cities Environmental Sanitation Project provided drainage, wastewater collection and treatment plants, and solid waste management facilities for citizens in Dong Hoi, Quy Nhon and Nha Trang. It has reduced the incidence and severity of flooding for 255,000 people; provided solid waste collection and better access to improved sanitation for more than 800,000 people; provided better sanitation in schools for 66,500 students; and helped 8,400 poor families upgrade their toilets and sanitation connections. In Nha Trang City, the project has contributed to attracting more than six million tourists in 2019, significantly boosting the city’s prosperity. This project helps to prepare Vietnam as a clean and green destination for tourism in the post-COVID-19 period.
Innovations in Development
In Mongolia, all 21 aimags (provinces) are covered by the groundbreaking Index-Based Livestock Insurance Project. The project introduced an insurance scheme where payments are based on the total number of livestock lost by species and soum (district) rather than on households’ actual, individual losses. The program is a combination of self-insurance, market-based insurance, and social safety net. Under the traditional system, it was difficult for insurers to verify losses by individual herders in Mongolia’s vast territory. Because the index system relies on verifiable statistics, estimating losses is a much simpler process that leaves less room for error. This innovative product benefits herders and makes good business sense for insurance companies.
Last Updated: Apr 15, 2021