The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $20 million to help the Government of Solomon Islands combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and its impact on the country’s economy.
The support comprises a $10 million concessional loan and a $10 million grant and will go toward preventing the disease from entering the country and for mitigating the economic impacts, including protecting the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable, especially women, a statement from the ADB said.
“Solomon Islands remains free of the COVID-19 disease, and the government is working hard to implement its response plan, which will help prevent the virus entering the country and enable Solomon Islands to be ready should the pandemic arrive,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.
The $20 million COVID-19 Rapid Response Program will help finance the government’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and the Economic Stimulus Package. This includes activities such as training frontline nurses and doctors to fight COVID-19, procuring personal protective equipment for medical staff, and delivering an economic stimulus to support individuals, businesses, and the economy.
Solomon Islands declared a state of emergency and closed its borders on 25 March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those restrictions were extended on 7 April to 25 July. Were the virus to enter the country, the scale of the emergency would overwhelm the country’s health system and cause more economic damage, the statement added.
Women are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19, as they comprise the majority of frontline workers in hospitals and clinics. Similarly, women are also the majority of workers in the tourism sector, which has been hit hard by COVID-19 in the Asia and Pacific region.
ADB’s assistance is also helping finance the government’s economic stimulus package, which addresses the impacts of COVID-19. This includes measures to support small businesses; the farming and commercial fishing sectors; as well as capital injections into state-owned enterprises, such as Soltuna and Solomon Airlines.
The loan and grant are funded through the COVID-19 pandemic response option (CPRO) under ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility. CPRO was established as part of ADB’s $20 billion expanded assistance for developing member countries’ COVID-19 response, announced on 13 April.
This is ADB’s second round of assistance for Solomon Islands to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. On 23 April, ADB announced $6 million ($3 million concessional loan and $3 million grant) from its Pacific Disaster Resilience Program (Phase 2) to help finance the country’s response to COVID-19.