Bridgetown – The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has launched the St Lucia segment of its “Safety Nets for Vulnerable Populations Affected by Coronavirus Project,” providing a US$5.217 million loan to bolster COVID-19 recovery efforts in the country.
CBD is providing similar loans to bolster shock-responsive social protection in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The CDB said that the intervention will support the St Lucia government in addressing the multifaceted impacts of the pandemic, which have been particularly severe for its borrowing member countries (BMC) and other small developing states.
The CDB said that the funding is coming from the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Global Loan Programme for Safety Nets for Vulnerable Populations.
According to the regional financial institution, an assessment undertaken in 2020 by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in Castries, quantified the negative effects of the COVID crisis on the population with 71.2 per cent of households reporting reductions in income, and 15 per cent having difficulty accessing necessities such as food and medicine.
COVID-19 also placed significant stress on the island’s social protection systems which struggled to meet the increased demands as conditions worsened.
CDB said that its project will facilitate initiatives which target the welfare and education systems to increase minimum income and employment levels.
“Given the ongoing challenges which have to be addressed within a context of limited fiscal space and competing development priorities, this intervention will provide resources to support the provision of services to poor and vulnerable cohorts of the population including sub-population groups hardest hit by the crisis,” said the head of the CDB’s Social Sector Division, Dr Martin Baptiste.
“CDB is pleased to partner with the Inter-American Development Bank and the government of St. Lucia in designing and implementing this project which is intended to contribute to ensuring minimum levels of quality of life for vulnerable persons affected by the crisis caused by COVID-19 as well as preserving Saint Lucia’s human capital in an inclusive, equitable and gender-responsive manner,” he added. (CMC)