World Bank, Ethiopia to Expand Access to Education, Other gains.

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The Government of Ethiopia and the World Bank recently signed a financing agreement for the Human Capital Operation (HCO). This program is aimed at addressing Ethiopia’s poor nutrition and low learning outcomes. The program is on a budget of $400 million, and it is set to make a significant impact on the lives of 97 million Ethiopians and 800,000 refugees.

The World Bank approved the program on June 16, 2023, because it recognized the crucial need to improve education and nutrition services nationwide. The HCO will particularly focus on drought-affected areas, refugee-hosting communities, and low-performing areas across the country. Over the past few years, Ethiopians have been strongly affected by various crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related catastrophes, environmental crises, and devastating conflicts. These crises have interfered with essential health services, which has in turn reversed the significant progress Ethiopia has achieved in health outcomes and service delivery during the past decade.

“This project arrives at a pivotal moment for Ethiopia as it seeks to boost social cohesion and champion peacebuilding. It will strengthen basic service delivery and mitigate the impact of crises on access and quality of essential services across regions to unlock the full potential of all Ethiopians,” said Ousmane Dione, World Bank Group Country Director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan.

The operation builds on the lessons from previous programs such as the Enhancing Shared Prosperity through Equitable Services (ESPES) program, which demonstrated the impact of results-based financing on empowering frontline staff to achieve national results, expanding coverage and quality of services, and enhancing citizen engagement.

Of the $400 million of International Development Association (IDA) financing, $350 million is a grant through the Window for Host Community and Refugees and the Crisis Response Window. To make certain the effective and transparent use of financing, the Human Capital Operation will be subject to rigorous fiduciary safeguards, as is the case with all World Bank projects. The operation will prioritize citizen engagement and accountability, ensuring that communities have a voice in the design and implementation of programs that affect their lives. This approach will help to build trust and ensure that the operation delivers results that are sustainable and inclusive.

* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 74 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has provided $458 billion to 114 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $29 billion over the last three years (FY19-FY21), with about 70 percent going to Africa.

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