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African Region to Receive $45 Billion in Development Aid

In this photo taken Oct. 19, 2015, women walk on farmlands that was destroyed by high salt content due to rising sea levels in Saloum Delta, Diamniadio Island in Senegal. Thousands of people on these tiny islands and villages in this part of West Africa are living on the frontline of climate change.

The World Bank reports Africa will receive the bulk of the $75 billion the International Development Association, or IDA, will spend to finance life-saving and life-changing operations over the next three years mainly in 30 of the world’s poorest, most fragile countries.

The IDA is a part of the World Bank which supports anti-poverty programs in the most poor developing countries through long-term, no interest loans.

The World Bank reports the African region will receive $45 billion of the $75 billion allocated for development purposes. It says other recipients will include small Pacific island states threatened by climate change and fragile countries in the Western Hemisphere, such as Haiti.

The fund, which runs from July 1 through June 30, 2020, also will support specific development projects in 82 additional fragile states, including Guinea, Nepal, Niger, and Tajikistan.

Axel van Trotsenburg, vice president for Development Programs at the World Bank, says the aid package will make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of people. For example, he says it could deliver essential health and nutrition services for up to 400 million people.

“We will or expect to train up to 10 million teachers to benefit 300-plus million children. We intend to immunize between 130 and 180 million children… and would undertake investments that could improve the access to improved water resources for up to 45 million people,” he said.

Long-term and emergency assistance

While IDA is largely focused on supporting long-term development projects, it does have provisions for helping people in crisis situations. Van Trotsenburg tells VOA that IDA has just announced a $1.6 billion support package for emergencies, with critical support going for famine relief in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria, where an estimated 20 million people are at risk of famine.

“The financial support will be a combination of recently approved operations that we have been in the last six, eight months that were already started to target, for example, the north of Nigeria to the remaining resources that are still available in our crisis response window,” he said.

Van Trotsenburg says IDA still has about $360 million left over from development projects executed over the past three years. He says that money will be used for famine relief.