WASHINGTON, Saturday, March 06, 2021 (WAFA) - The World Bank approved yesterday a grant of $15 million to help Palestinian municipalities maintain vital services and provide jobs to households whose income has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
The grant for the Third Municipal Development Project (MDPIII) will be supplemented by an additional $10 million in donor co-financing from the Partnership for Infrastructure Development Trust Fund, administered by the Bank, according to a World Bank press release.
"Palestinian municipalities are at the frontline of combating the COVID-19 pandemic. However, municipal revenues have declined dramatically as a result of the pandemic-induced economic slowdown. The partnership between the World Bank and donors is a model of collaboration to help alleviate the severely reduced municipal spending with subsequent impact on service delivery, particularly health services and facilities. Thus, it will help Palestinian citizens and the most vulnerable to stay safe and healthy," said Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza.
Local governments lead the effort in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic due to their proximity to the affected communities, and because emergency management responsibilities are at the local level. They are responsible for managing local public services and facilities which are essential in the COVID-19 crisis, including sanitation and public health (hygiene); sanitization and cleaning of public roads and solid waste collection; mandating social distancing and contact tracing. They also need to host quarantine locations in some localities.
The additional grants will support the delivery of urgent COVID-19 crisis response activities within municipalities by scaling up support through the ongoing Third Municipal Development Project. Such support includes the provision of emergency public goods and finance recurrent costs of municipalities in order to keep essential services running. The financial support will increase funding to carry out labor-intensive public works that will enable continuation of services and provide employment with a focus on gender inclusion, said the press release.
Another key activity that will be carried out under the new grants is technical assistance to municipalities to enhance preparedness to respond to natural and man-made disasters and shocks and strengthen resilience at the local level.
"Adding resources to the ongoing MDPIII is certainly critical at this juncture. Based on the experience gained so far on how to respond to the pandemic, scaling up the project's activities will provide much needed assistance to improve the crisis response, preserve well-being and build resilience in the municipalities," said Chris Pablo, World Bank Senior Urban Development Specialist.