The Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network – Africa (JENA) has welcomed the international community’s generous gesture to support poorer countries’ recovery efforts in the wake of the prolonged COVID-19 crisis. On Wednesday last week, the World Bank announced a $93 billion replenishment package of the International Development Association (IDA) to help low-income countries respond to the COVID-19 crisis and build a greener, more resilient, and inclusive future.
“The donor contribution to the IDA, World Bank fund for the poor, is good news for poorer nations as these countries are in great need of financing to support their recovery,” said Fr. Charles Chilufya, the head of JENA last Friday.
Sub-Saharan Africa and other low-income countries need funds to tackle the harsh impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, to shore up their economies and build an inclusive future. The pandemic continues to take a toll on lives in Africa having pushed millions into extreme poverty. The African Development Bank (AfDB) Africa Economic Outlook 2021 reported that an additional 38.7 million more Africans could be driven into extreme poverty resulting in 34.4% of the African population grappling with extreme poverty and hunger by the end of 2021. The shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic are reversing hard-won gains in poverty eradication over the last few decades in Africa.
“In all this, the hardest hit are vulnerable people with lower levels of education, low-skilled workers, vulnerable employment and informal jobs, who are at the highest risk of sliding into extreme poverty,” Fr. Chilufya added. He further explained that “the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequities and injustices that threaten people’s well-being, safety, and lives, and further exacerbated an interconnected set of crises – economic, ecological, political, social – that impact the poor and most vulnerable in Sub-Saharan African.”
The new financing package was agreed over during a two-day meeting hosted virtually by Japan and happens to be the largest ever mobilisation in IDA’s 61-year history. The funds will go toward the support of the world’s 74 poorest countries, most of them from Sub-Saharan Africa, under the 20th replenishment (IDA20) program, which focuses on helping countries recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and stem a further slip into poverty of vulnerable populations in Africa and other low-income countries. Most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are struggling with dwindling government revenues; increasing debt vulnerabilities; rising risks to fragility, conflict, instability and looming food crisis.
“The pandemic is now stretching into its third year with no sign of abating in sight. This state of affairs has serious consequences for Sub-Saharan African countries and other low- and lower middle-income countries,” Fr. Chilufya said.
JENA and several other major international religious groups have been calling for additional aid to help poorer countries confront the pandemic. Sub-Saharan Africa will not see any relief from these crises unless there is serious effort made to promote recovery and economic and social development via investments in vaccination and human capital (health, education and social protection), in infrastructure for both urban and rural areas (power, digital, transport, and urban), and businesses that create value for all including jobs.
For follow-up contact: Charles B. Chilufya, JENA Director
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