The World Bank Group has fast-tracked $1.9bn in emergency funds to help 25 developing countries respond to the Covid-19 pandemic – including key garment producers Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia, Haiti, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Morocco.

The Bank Group says it expects to deploy up to $160bn in total over the next 15 months to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. 

"The poorest and most vulnerable countries will likely be hit the hardest," says president David Malpass. 

Bank teams are also working to rapidly redeploy a further $1.7bn from existing projects to urgent pandemic response and recovery. 

The focus of these first efforts is to help health systems tackle the immediate challenges of Covid-19. For example, in countries ranging from Haiti to India, the financing will help bring more medical staff onboard and ensure that they are well trained and equipped to deliver emergency care.  

In countries like Ecuador and the Kyrgyz Republic, it will help ensure that public outreach that gets strong prevention and protection messages to citizens in the short and medium term.  And in Ethiopia, among other countries, the increase in resources to fight the pandemic will also support long-term efforts that strengthen and build the capacity of the national health system.   

In Pakistan, the Bank's support will be crucial to making remote learning available for 50 million children whose schools have had to close. The emergency financing here will also enable basic food to reach 40,000 people whose movement will be restricted for up to 6 months, and it will train health workers to watch for and help prevent gender-based violence in households under quarantine.

In addition to the World Bank projects, the emergency financing includes $8bn from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), where work is underway to help the private sector cope with the pandemic. 

Experience from previous shocks shows that keeping companies solvent is key to saving jobs and limiting the economic damage. In addition to new investments, IFC is extending trade finance and working capital lines to clients. Many Bank Group efforts will also continue to focus on smaller businesses, so that they can resume their key contribution to growth and jobs in many client countries.

Supplementing the direct assistance to governments and private firms, the Bank Group is working to address disruptions in global supply chains, so that countries have access to critically needed medical supplies.