As the Caribbean faced down the second year of COVID-19 in 2021, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) mobilised over US$80 million specifically to help its Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) meet the increased and changing needs brought on by the pandemic.
Speaking at the Bank’s Annual News Conference, Director of CDB’s Projects Department, Mr. Daniel Best described the Bank’s efforts to make the much-needed funding available.
“The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic saw our response underpinned by flexibility and dexterity. Wherever possible we worked with our BMCs to redesign on-going operations to meet short-term needs and we built partnerships to leverage additional and concessionary resources to fund national level management and response. The partnerships included collaboration with CARICOM, the OECS Commission, the UWI, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), UNDP, PAHO, the EU, and UKCIF, to name a few,” noted Best.
This response included partnering with the IADB to make US$50 million available for health, education, social protection and economic projects in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) member countries and with the European Investment Bank to provide EUR €30 million for vaccines and health-related emergency expenditure throughout CDB’s BMCs.
It also included a grants programme implemented by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), which saw US$887,380 in grants issued to 61 small businesses affected by COVID 19.
Overall, CDB approved US$122.6 million in projects in 2021. Loan financing accounted for US$71.2 million, while grant funding was US$51.4 million.
Disbursements in 2021 totalled US$256.6 million, with a record US$20 million being disbursed in Haiti. Despite the constraints of the pandemic, several major projects funded by the Bank were completed or under implementation across the Region in 2021.
- The completion of the Science and Technology Block at the Dr. JP Eustace Memorial Secondary School in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, part of a project for which CDB provided funding of US$12.3 million, which will make the full suite of programmes available to 500 students;
- Upgrading of 30 Science and TVET workshops in St. Kitts and Nevis and the provision of equipment for six of the Federation’s eight public secondary schools. With the upgrades schools have been able to offer more CVQ programmes and cater to a wider range of older students and drop-out rates have declined from 37% for boys and 23% for girls at the start of the project to 6% and 4% respectively;
- The installation and upgrade of water supply lines for the Dennery North area in Saint Lucia, providing safe water to approximately 2000 households and;
- The completion of the US$40 million Grantley Adams International Airport Pavement Rehabilitation and Expansion Project in Barbados.
Looking ahead to 2022, Best signalled a major focus on climate investment for member countries, stating that:
“CDB expects to mobilise up to US$150 million in concessional climate finance through those programmes and projects financed from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). We are working with BMCs to develop additional pipeline projects for GCF co-financing, to scale up and improve the sustainability of future climate finance flows to the Caribbean. Implementation of the EUR€14 million EU-funded Caribbean Action for Resilience Enhancement (CARE) Programme will commence implementation in the first quarter of 2022 and this will provide grant financing to support climate resilience in our BMCs.”