The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a grant of US$8.9m to bolster Covid-19-related control measures in six Sadc countries including Zimbabwe.
The bank also approved US$683,000 grants to São Tomé & Príncipe,to support the two-island nation’s response to the pandemic and its impact. The grant funding comes under the bank’s Covid-19 Response Facility.
In a statement, AfDB said the US$8.9m grant will facilitate the procurement of laboratory and medical supplies, including testing kits, personal protective gear and non-invasive ventilators in six Sadc countries–Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Sadc Secretariat is the recipient and the implementing agency of the grant.
AfDB said the financing will “reinforce the Sadc’s capacity to coordinate pandemic response measures, including surveillance and sensitisation in the six beneficiary countries”.
“The Sadc countries and São Tomé & Príncipe have inadequate resources and capacity to effectively manage the Covid-19 pandemic, which has put a strain on already fragile health systems in the countries,” AfDB said.
“As a result, these countries are now struggling to respond effectively to the fast-evolving situation posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Although the spread of COVID-19 has been slow in Africa, it continuous to steadily spread through the continent, leaving in its wake disruptions and hardship caused by economic lockdowns.
The pandemic is projected to have a substantial economic impact on the SADC member countries. For instance, real GDP in all the SADC countries, except Zimbabwe, is forecast to contract in 2020.
The approved project aligns with two of the Bank’s High Five priority areas: improving the quality of life for the people of Africa and integrating Africa, as well as the Sadc Disaster Preparedness and Response Mechanism to fight disasters and pandemics, AfDB said.
The 16-nation Sadc bloc has recorded around 120,000 Covid-19 cases out of a continent-wide total of 325,000 cases as of 24 June 2020.
Reported cases in São Tomé and Príncipe stood at about 700, in a population of around 211,000 people.
Last month, AfDB approved a US$13.7m grant to help mitigate the impact of Covid-19 pandemic following a plea by the Southern African nation.
AfDB said the funds will go to Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 Response Project (CRP), which aims to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in the country beset by economic and social constraints.
The CRP, it said, would focus on 15 high-density urban suburbs in Harare the capital, satellite townships and targeted health facilities in other areas of the country.
Activities under the project include boosting capacity in Covid-19 prevention and management protocols for healthcare personnel and populations in targeted regions, and increasing access to Covid-19 hand washing facilities in Harare, satellite townships and other affected regions.