COVID-19 Support to Europe and Central Asia from World Bank Tops $1.4 Billion, as Anna Bjerde Becomes Regional VP
Ms. Anna Bjerde, a Swedish national, became the new World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia on May 1st, 2020. In this position, Ms. Bjerde will lead the World Bank’s strategic, analytical, operational and knowledge work in the region.
Ms. Bjerde takes leadership of the Europe and Central Asia region during an exceptionally challenging time for the Bank’s client countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many countries battling severe health, social and economic impacts. Amid continued uncertainty, the World Bank’s latest Europe and Central Asia Economic Update suggests various negative growth scenarios for the region, including a major recession in 2020, with growth contracting to between −4.4 and −2.8 percent.
“As Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, I will work very closely with governments in client countries to help them achieve strong development outcomes, but our immediate focus is on addressing the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Anna Bjerde, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia. “In the short-term, we are providing fast-track financing and policy tools to help protect people’s lives and livelihoods. In the medium-term, we will help countries cushion the economic and fiscal fallout from the crisis through appropriate policy measures and financing.”
To date, the World Bank has committed more than $1.4 billion to help countries in Europe and Central Asia mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Since April 2nd, 2020, around $490 million has been approved through new emergency response projects. In addition, up to $925 million is being reallocated, used, or made available from existing projects and lending, including additional financing, to help countries with their COVID-19 response.
This financing is paying for medical equipment, including test kits, respirators and ventilators, and strengthening the capacity of health systems, including training for health care workers, along with social protection support for the most vulnerable people affected by COVID-19. Several countries in the region are currently in discussions with the World Bank about future projects and support to help them address the impacts of the pandemic.
Ms. Bjerde has held several senior positions at the World Bank throughout her twenty-five year career. She is a recognized leader in economic development, with a focus on inclusive growth and sustainable development. Ms. Bjerde succeeds Mr. Cyril Muller, who became Vice President for Europe and Central Asia in July 2015.
World Bank Group COVID-19 Response:
The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms.