By Nuru Ahmed

The Board of Directors of African Development Fund (ADF) has approved aids totaling $9.52 million to strengthen responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in East Africa, the Horn of Africa and Comoros.

The aid approved on 26 June, is part of the $10 billion COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility (CRF) approved by the Board of Directors in April 2020 and complements the Bank’s direct support to regional member countries across the continent.

 The countries to benefit are Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Funding will also go toward the procurement of essential medical supplies, including testing kits training health workers.

 The funds will be used to boast health systems and disease surveillance, enhance infection prevention, control, and improve regional coordination by the East African Community (EAC) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to contain cross-border transmissions.

 Martha Phiri, the Director of Human and Social Development said, “The overall objective of the operation is to lower the incidence and mortality in the Eastern African region due to COVID-19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks.”

The EAC Secretariat will receive $8.79 million in tranches of $8.16 million and $629,582 while $729, 581 will go to IGAD. The World Health Organization (WHO) will be the implementing agency for the emergency response activities in the EAC, IGAD member states, and the Comoros, while the RECs will be directly responsible for executing the cross-border interventions.

 Countries in Eastern and the Horn of Africa are enforcing stringent border measures to control the cross-border transmissions that have led to disruptions in the movement of people, trade flows and access to essential goods. The project will, therefore, tackle these challenges by improving testing and case detection capacity at border crossings and improving regional coordination.

 The Project will also help EAC and IGAD to roll out regional COVID-19 digital tracking systems to facilitate cross-border surveillance. This will make the regional bodies better prepared to counter cross-border transmissions during future pandemics.

 The grants align with the Bank’s High 5 priority commitments, especially to improve the quality of life for people of Africa, and to advance regional integration. The finance also strongly aligns with the Eastern Africa Regional Strategy Paper, which calls for enhanced cooperation in managing regional public goods.

 As of 28 June, total confirmed cases in the 11 mainland countries of the region was at 42,000, while the island nation of Comoros reported 265 cases out of a population of 800,000.