Published on Voices

May 22, 2020 end of week update: COVID response, desert locusts, a new chief economist, and more

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This week was significant for the World Bank Group, and I would like to quickly highlight some key developments from the past few days:

  • The World Bank Group’s COVID-19 emergency health programs have now reached 100 developing countries. We launched this focused fast-track financing approach fewer than 50 days ago to provide a broad response to the unprecedented crisis.
World Bank


  • The shrinkage in the global economy threatens to push up to 60 million people into extreme poverty. The World Bank Group is working to expand our emergency health response through social protection measures, scalable cash transfers, and other steps to support livelihoods. We are helping to maintain the private sector by supporting trade and working capital lines. The debt moratorium will add resources and transparency efforts will strengthen the recovery.
  • Today, we approved $500 million for the Emergency Locust Response Program (ELRP), helping countries in Africa and the Middle East fight the locust swarms that are threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of people. Together with COVID-19, these locust waves represent an unprecedented double crisis for millions of people whose lives and livelihoods are at stake.
  • As a second, much larger wave of locusts descends on East Africa this month, we are ramping up financing and technical assistance to help affected countries control the swarms, prevent future outbreaks, and help affected households survive and ultimately overcome the crisis. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, which are among the worst-affected countries, will first benefit from ELRP’s initial phase. We are prioritizing providing emergency assistance to the hardest-hit households and communities.
  • It was my pleasure to appoint Carmen Reinhart as World Bank Group Vice President and Chief Economist. Her expertise, insights, and thought leadership will be central to our efforts in recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, restoring sustainable and broad-based growth, and increasing debt and investment transparency. Welcome, Carmen!
  • Earlier this week, I participated in a very good discussion with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and joined a meeting of international organization heads, including IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. During these meetings, I highlighted debt relief and transparency as being key to COVID-19 recovery for the poorest countries. It is important that we maintain the private sector, so that we may see a quicker return to business creation and growth after this pandemic has passed. Money must get directly to people.
  • I also held a positive conversation with Prime Minister Omar Razzaz of Jordan. The World Bank Group looks forward to supporting Jordan’s COVID-19 efforts, social safety nets, refugee support, and education sector programs, among others. I welcomed our conversation and we will continue working with Prime Minister Razzaz to achieve good development outcomes in Jordan.

Throughout the course of this week, our World Bank Group staff have once again demonstrated their dedication to securing good outcomes for the world’s poorest, even in these difficult times. While we have a long road ahead, I am encouraged that our team remains committed to using all the resources and expertise at our disposal to protect the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest amid this global pandemic.


Originally published on LinkedIn.


The World Bank Group and COVID-19


David Malpass

Former President, World Bank Group

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