Addressing the COVID-19 crisis
As part of the Bank’s COVID-19 fast-track facility, the World Bank is implementing emergency projects in several countries, including Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. These projects provide emergency financing to purchase medical and laboratory supplies, train medical staff, and strengthen national public health systems.
The Bank restructured existing projects in Cambodia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu to fight the pandemic, including by activating Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Options.
The World Bank is also helping Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines finance the purchase or distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments. In Vietnam, the Bank prepared a series of policy notes with strategies and recommendations to help contain the spread of COVID-19, protect vulnerable groups from the pandemic’s impacts, and stimulate a broad-based recovery. Through a grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, the World Bank also helped Vietnam ramp up testing capacity for 84 laboratories nation-wide, cutting the turnaround time from 24-48 hours to 4-6 hours.
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 through the Northeast and Red River Delta Regions Health System Support Project, which 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 Investing in Nutrition and Early Years (INEY) Program informed and supported the National Strategy to Accelerate Stunting Prevention, which reduced the national stunting rate by 6.4 percentage points in its three years of implementation since 2018. This achievement involved collaboration among a range of ministries and government institutions, development partners, civil society, academia, professional organizations, and the private sector – all working together to bring nutrition services to millions of pregnant women and children under two across the country.
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.
Since 2011, the World Bank has been supporting governments of the Pacific Islands to increase the affordability, reliability and quality of information and communication and technology (ICT) access, through the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program. The first phase in Tonga has delivered substantial benefits, with an opening up of the telecommunications market and the construction of 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. This work reduced the average retail cost of broadband internet by 97%, reduced the average per-minute cost of international phone calls by 37%.
Conflict and fragility
In the Philippines, the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) (2005-2021) aimed to promote peace and development in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. The MTF funded a series of three Reconstruction and Development Projects (RDPs), which fostered inclusive social and economic recovery, social cohesion, and participatory governance through a community-driven development approach, mainly in the area that in 2019 became the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Through RDP 1 and RDP 2, more communities in the region have had better access to clean water, better roads, farming and fishing equipment, and more post-harvest facilities. Six ex-combatant camps also benefitted from functional literacy and livelihood skills programs. The final phase, RDP 3, provided for the construction of health stations across six communities, including birthing rooms, midwife stations, small pharmacies, and basic medical equipment to benefit 13,000 individuals in remote areas. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these facilities have provided isolation facilities, care for COVID cases, and vaccinations. The project also financed the construction of 13 community sub-projects such as roads, water systems, post-harvest facilities, among others that benefitted approximately 32,000 individuals, half of whom are women. Productivity and skills trainings were also offered that enlisted 1,297 trainees (half were women). The RDP3 socio-economic interventions translated to increased savings and incomes, better agricultural yields, and food security for conflict-affected families and communities.
Water and sanitation
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: April 2022