World Bank keen to assist Zimbabwe

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The World Bank continues to play an important role in the resuscitation of the country’s infrastructure by offering development support to Zimbabwe.

NewsDay Business reporter Victoria Mtomba (ND) talked to World Bank Zimbabwe acting country manager Peter Nicholas (PN) to find out more on the bank’s activities. Below are excerpts of the interview.

ND: Have you released the $2,65 million for the Beitbridge water supply and sanitation?

PN: A grant agreement between the World Bank as the administrator of the State and Peace Building Fund, and the Government of Zimbabwe, was signed on January 5 2011. The Agreement designates Beitbridge Town Council (BTC) as the principal implementing agency. This means that funds are available to BTC to procure goods, works and services for the project, and BTC have already started doing so.

ND: When will you be able to complete the Beitbridge project?

PN: It is anticipated that completion of the project will take 12–18 months during which period the World Bank will provide technical support.

ND: What is it that you will be doing in Beitbridge?
How many people will benefit from the project?

PN: The major objective of the World Bank support is to improve access to sustainable quality of water supply and sanitation services in Beitbridge. The project is divided into three main activities:

Water treatment and rehabilitation with a focus on rehabilitation of the abstraction system, rehabilitation of water treatment works, and improvement of the water distribution system and installation of 400 water meters.

Sewage treatment rehabilitation and improvement of solid waste management with a focus on rehabilitation and improvement of solid waste, which involves upgrading sewer trunk mains to reduce blockages, improving solid waste management by procuring one dumper truck and two refuse collection tractors and conducting feasibility studies for the identification and design of a new dump site.

An estimated 40 000 people in Beitbridge, including transit passengers, will benefit from this project. During the 2008/2009 cholera outbreak, 26% of the deaths were in Beitbridge as a result of its poor water and sanitation services.

Implementation of the Beitbridge project will provide increased accessibility, affordable and reliable service to the residents of Beitbridge, improve efficiency in billing and revenue collection than current low levels ensure financial and environmental sustainability in this very critical sector and strategic town.

ND: I understand you were also undertaking studies on economic and sectoral issues in the country last year. How far are you with the studies?

PN: Over the last two years, the analytical
Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) has supported analytical work and technical assistance across the following six sectors: economics, governance and anti corruption, agrarian issues, infrastructure, basic services, and social protection.

The MDTF has also supported a broad range of workshops and conferences to share and disseminate study results, as well as two Cabinet retreats (Victoria Falls, April 2009 and Nyanga, August 2009).

The MDTF provided technical support to the preparation of the 2010 and 2011 budgets and the ongoing development of the medium-term plan. Current work includes support to the payroll audit and to Zimbabwe’s public financial management systems.

Over the period 2011-12 the focus of MDTF work will be primarily on three sectors: (i) economic management and governance, including private sector development, public sector management and public financial management, the agrarian sector and (iii) infrastructure.

Within these sectors, the MDTF will conduct analytical work on issues such as medium-term planning, public financial management, agrarian reform, land policy, improving water and power supply, investment climate for business, civil service reform, management of mining assets, and regulatory reform.

help build Government capacities

promote donor synergies, share knowledge and facilitate greater harmonisation of efforts relating to investment planning and implementation.

contribute to aid effectiveness in Zimbabwe, and where possible reinforce the aid coordination architecture in the country.

The first batch of reports will soon be available on the World Bank’s website.

ND: What were the findings from the studies? What is it that needs to be done to help the country’s economic situation?

PN: The studies highlighted the broad-based reforms needed in key sectors to foster socio-economic recovery: efficiency of public spending (both in terms of social service and infrastructure service delivery), and also the need for a widespread increase in transparency and accountability.

The World Bank is undertaking analytical work on growth issues, gathering evidence on the recovery in key sectors, including manufacturing and agriculture. This will help inform the formulation of mid-term growth recovery policies.

ND: What other projects will you be assisting Zimbabwe with this year? How much money will you be investing in the projects?

PN: The bank plans to support a project in the health sector, with funding from the Results Based Financing (RBF) Trust Fund.

The $15 million RBF grant would help restore primary health services, and would be designed and implemented in all rural districts with the aim of increasing the capacity for service delivery in the areas of maternal and child health.

The grant would support the abolishment of user-fees for selected services and thereby increase access to health services for the poor.

Financing will be channelled through a non-state entity which will directly contract public and mission health service providers.

The grant would be targeted to increase the coverage of key maternal and child health interventions, build capacity and improve accountability in health service delivery with the aim of revitalising the health system and increasing its results-focus.

Through the State and Peace Building Trust Fund and through the Global Food Crisis Response Trust Fund the Bank has committed a total of $12 million to the supply of fertilisers and seeds to small-holders in food-insecure communal lands
The World Bank-administered Low-Income Countries Under Stress Trust Fund is helping strengthen health care service delivery through a $1 million grant.