World Bank Pledges $500 Million Aid for Rwanda’s Covid-19 Recovery

The fund is expected to come in handy in speeding up Covid-19 vaccine access, as well as enabling the resumption and recovery of business activities.

The World Bank Group has pledged a $500 million aid in support of Rwanda’s recovery plan from the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda, Rolande Pryce, the fund will go into supporting vaccine procurement and deployment, financial support to Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises, commercializing agriculture and promoting digital inclusion all part of supporting Rwanda’s resilient recovery.

The fund is expected to come in handy in speeding up Covid-19 vaccine access, as well as enabling the resumption and recovery of business activities.

Among the gaps that the pledged aid is expected to fill is curbing poverty levels which the World Bank estimates could go up as a result of lockdowns, social distancing, and increased costs associated with the pandemic.

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In the latest World Bank Rwanda Economic Update, it is estimated that the poverty headcount is likely to rise by 5.1 percentage points (more than 550,000 people) in 2021, with more than 80 per cent of the new poor in rural areas. Across the continent, an estimated 32 million people could be plunged into poverty.

Further studies by the World Bank also showed that the impact of Covid-19 disproportionately affects women in Rwanda.

While Rwanda’s employment to population ratio decreased by 5 percentage points from 48.3 to 43 per cent through the lockdown period, the international lender noted that there was a larger decrease among female workers (6.2 percentage points versus 4 per cent among male workers).

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This is partly because Rwandan women are more likely to be seasonal workers and more likely to be taking care of a sick relative.

The World Bank experts say the poverty effect is likely to be more in rural areas in Rwanda with rural residents taking longer to recover and graduate economically.

According to the World Bank’s Senior Economist Calvin Djiofack “although the welfare losses in Rwanda’s rural areas are lower than those in the urban areas in the short term, rural households are more likely to remain trapped in poverty over the long term. The long-term adverse effect of the pandemic increases disproportionally more among rural households and the poorest households, accentuating inequality.”

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The Bank, however, noted that ongoing responses by the government in social protection have played a role in curbing the increase in poverty.

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