World Bank approves $75 million for Nepal to buy Covid-19 vaccinesThe additional financing also supports community engagement and risk communication, and strengthening existing digital technology‐based pandemic data, surveillance and monitoring systems.
The World Bank on Friday approved $75 million from the International Development Association to support access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines and equitable vaccine distribution by strengthening Nepal’s health and vaccination system.
The financing is expected to facilitate vaccination of at least one-third of the population through an equitable distribution plan.
“The pandemic presents immense challenges and an uncertain environment, particularly in the purchase, supply and distribution of vaccines,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
“It is a testament to our strong partnership with Nepal that the Bank has been able to move quickly to support the government’s ambitious plans to vaccinate at least 72 percent of the population.”
The additional financing builds on the $29 million for the original Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project that was approved in April 2020, the existing Bank-supported health programmes, and confirmed support of other development partners in the context of the government’s overall Covid‐19 response, the multilateral funding agency said in a press statement.
Most of the new financing (90 percent) will go towards the purchase of Covid‐19 vaccines and deployment for prioritized populations beyond the 20 percent that will be vaccinated through COVAX.
The rest of the financing will help strengthen the health system to support the Covid‐19 vaccination effort and procure other Covid‐19-related supplies such as diagnostic tests, laboratory equipment and therapeutics.
The additional financing also supports community engagement and risk communication, and strengthening existing digital technology‐based pandemic data, surveillance and monitoring systems.
“This support is critical for Nepal to safeguard the physical health of its people and economic health of the nation,” said Gail Richardson, World Bank Practice Manager for South Asia for the Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice.
“Providing fast and fair access to the approved Covid-19 vaccines for the most vulnerable people will expedite population-level immunity, which is central to resilient recovery from the devastating effects of Covid-19.”
Meanwhile, Nepal and the World Bank on Friday signed loan and grant agreements for the $24 million Forests for Prosperity Project ($6.1 million as grant and $17.9 million as concessional loan) that will help Nepal advance sustainable forest management.
The project will contribute to transforming Nepal’s forest sector by improving sustainable forest management and developing a strong forest-based private sector.
These activities will result in multiple benefits for forest-dependent people in selected municipalities in Province 2 and Lumbini Province, including inclusive economic benefits, ecosystem services, and greater climate resilience.
It will help strengthen ongoing community-based conservation efforts while promoting inclusive sustainable use.
“Strengthening local communities, for whom forests are a traditional safety net during times of crisis, is especially important in the Covid-19 era. In that same spirit, the project will facilitate Nepal’s forest-based private sector to invest in jobs and reduce dependence on timber imports,” said Sishir Kumar Dhungana, Finance Secretary.
“The project will also provide timely support to the institutions at the provincial and local levels to strengthen natural resource governance.”