Saturday, June 20, 2009

World Bank approves $135 million to Pakistan; much of money to help eradicate polio

From APP. In the picture, a mother looks on as her child is given polio drops. A large portion of the money designated by the World Bank is aimed at providing polio drops to children under the age of five.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The World Bank has approved two projects totalling $135 million to help the Government of Pakistan strengthen its social safety nets and eradicate polio.

The $60 million Pakistan Social Safety Net Technical Assistance Project will enhance the operation and management of a safety net system for the poor in Pakistan to cushion the negative effects of food inflation as well as the country’s economic crisis.

‘The Government of Pakistan is committed to developing a modern social safety net system,’ said Yusupha Crookes, the World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. ‘This project will assist Pakistan in establishing an effective social safety net system that provides poor people with basic income support.’

The World Bank also approved $74.68 million to support government efforts to eradicate polio. The Third Partnership for Polio Eradication Project, which is part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), will help provide the Oral Polio Vaccines (OPV), to children less than five years of age.

The number of confirmed polio cases decreasing substantially from around 1,147 in 1997 to 32 in 2007. However, in 2008 there was an increase in virus transmission with 117 cases reported, spread across all four provinces.

The Polio Eradication project is a performance-based credit, with an option to be converted into a grant if the project achieves its objectives. Once the objectives are achieved, the repayment of the credit will be undertaken by buy-down partners, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation

The credits from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's lending arm, carry a 0.75 per cent service fee, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years.