Gaborone – Six SADC member states will split a US$18,9 million windfall from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to fight COVID-19.
The AfDB’s board of directors recently approved the funding under the institution’s COVID-19 Response Facility.
The funds will o towards procurement of laboratory and medical supplies - including testing kits, personal protective gear and non-invasive ventilators - in Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The SADC Secretariat is the recipient and the implementing agency of the grant.
Separately, the Board also approved US$683,000 in grants to São Tomé & Príncipe, to support the two-island nation’s response to the pandemic and its impacts.
The AfDB noted that some SADC countries and São Tomé& Príncipe had inadequate resources and capacity to effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put a strain on already fragile health systems in the countries.
“As a result, these countries are now struggling to respond effectively to the fast-evolving situation posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the bank noted.
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 bank said.
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.
The 16-nation SADC bloc had recorded around 120,000 COVID-19 cases out of a continent-wide total of 325,000 cases as of June 24, 2020.
Reported cases in São Tomé and Príncipe stood at about 700, in a population of around 211,000 people.