On Wednesday, 2nd December, the Asian Development Bank approved aid amounting to $100 Million to assist Afghanistan in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. With this act, the ADB reaffirmed its commitment to assisting Afghanistan in its struggles against the virus outbreak, as well as supporting the state, its economy, and its people, as they try to recover from the multi-faceted effects of the pandemic on their lives.
The utilization of this fund is supposed to include gains with regards to the health system, social protection for the underserved and vulnerable, mainstreaming gender and allowing equal opportunities, and the creation of jobs, as well as macroeconomic gains.
The pandemic has pushed millions below the poverty line, and remittances are also expected to fall. Spikes in food shortages have caused rising prices. Most businesses, especially small ones, have suffered because of the lockdowns. The budget deficit has tripled.
Previously ABD provided Afghanistan with $40 million emergency assistance for medical assistance like the construction of hospitals and medical facilities and also for training of health workers, including women, in COVID-19 treatment. Another $633 Million are being rolled out for health and social protection. These grants include mechanisms to promote good governance and are anti-corruption with detailed e-monitoring, especially through the ministry of Finance.
CARES programs are operating in Afghanistan, funded countercyclically by the ADB’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option (CPRO) for low income and developing member states. These programs will operate in a gender-sensitive manner, and provide awareness on the prevention of COVID 19 as well as social support in terms of funding for food, utility bills, etc.