WASHINGTON, Aug. 02 (Saba) - The World Bank's (WB) Board of Directors has approved a $50 million grant to support the government's efforts to improve access to basic services for the underserved communities.
The International Development Association (IDA) grant, the Bank's fund for the world's poorest countries, will supplement an ongoing program that has increased school enrollment, especially for girls, improved access to water, boosted agricultural productivity and incomes, provided better public health services and promoted mobility through rural road improvements.
According to a WB press release, the additional funds are destined for the Community and Local Development Program (CLDP), a core component of the Social Fund for Development Phase IV Project (SFD IV) covering the years 2011 to 2016. While expanding access to basic services, the program also empowers local communities by putting them in charge of identifying infrastructure projects that address their specific needs. A pipeline of 563 CLDP sub-projects has been prepared, 70 percent of which were selected through community demand.
"Meeting the basic needs of Yemenis is vital for sustaining the country's political transition," said Wael Zakout, World Bank Country Manager for Yemen. "The Social Fund for Development has proved to be an effective organization, continuing to function throughout the crisis, and its system of autonomous, regional offices allows it to operate in the entire country – even in remote areas with limited government presence."
Along with encouraging voice and participation in the selection of sub-projects, the program will support the national priority of decentralization. The CLDP includes an Empowerment for Local Development Program designed to build the capacities of communities and local authorities to implement the sub-projects they identify.
"Several of the activities funded by the program have also been developed to promote inclusion," said Mira Hong, World Bank Task Team Leader for the project. "The needs of girls and women are a primary focus, for instance, with increased access to schools and reproductive health services. More than half of the health and education professionals that have so far been trained through the program are women."
To date, SFD IV has created 24 million days of employment and benefitted 4.5 million Yemenis, with women representing 2.5 million. The total budget for the six-year project is US$1.2 billion, of which IDA has financed US$85 million, and the government along with 12 other donors has committed US$760 million. The additional US$50 million grant from IDA is also intended as a catalyst to attract more donors.
In January 2014, the Bank's active portfolio in Yemen consisted of 32 projects (including recipient-executed trust funds) with about US$900 million in net commitments, focused on increasing access to basic social services, improving infrastructure, and enhancing governance and institutions.