World Bank to assist Belize response to COVID-19 impacts

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WASHINGTON, USA — Belize will strengthen its response to the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic with US$12.4 million from the World Bank. The funds will be used to provide social assistance to poor and vulnerable households impacted by the crisis.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to serious economic and social challenges for Belize,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. “The World Bank mobilized a rapid response to support the country’s efforts in mitigating the impacts on the poor and most vulnerable populations.”

The funds will support Belize’s social protection response to the COVID-19 emergency, implemented by the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation (MHDSTPA). The financing will provide support for existing beneficiaries of Belize’s main poverty reduction social protection program, Building Opportunities for Our Social Transformation (BOOST). It will also support poor households not receiving other social assistance or employment income through a temporary Belize COVID-19 Cash Transfer (BCCAT) Program.

This program will target households screened through a poverty assessment tool and who meet set criteria, including households with pregnant women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Specific details on eligibility criteria and the scope of the emergency social assistance will be published by the government of Belize prior to roll-out. In total, over 13,000 households in need are expected to receive cash transfers through this emergency response.

These funds were accessed under the Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC) of the Climate Resilience Improvement Project (CRIP). CERCs allow funds to be reallocated from existing projects to address emergency response needs.

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response.

Supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs, the World Bank Group will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans.

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