The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved, Wednesday in Abidjan, a €180 million loan to support Tunisia in the fight against the COVID-19.
The loan fits into the Program to Support the Response to COVID-19 through Social Inclusion and Employment (PARISE).
The AfDB said PARISE has the immediate objective of strengthening the country’s health response and mitigating the socio-economic impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable groups, particularly women and children.
On the one hand, the program will support measures taken to help curb the spread of the virus, strengthen the resilience of the health system and extend social coverage to the most vulnerable groups.
It will enhance early detection through the use of rapid screening tests (RSTs) for 450,000 people, and extend social coverage for more than two million people, while protecting 140,000 low-income pensioners.
On the other hand, PARISE aims to preserve the jobs weakened by the crisis and to strengthen the dynamics of social inclusion.
During the lockdown period, the Tunisian government granted an exceptional allowance to 623,000 families with limited income, 10,000 workers who faced job loss and 350,000 workers affected by the crisis.
In the medium term, the program will enable 230,000 small farmers, more than 320,000 employees and around 50,000 self-employed workers and artisans to keep their jobs.
It will also help save more than 400 exporting companies and 250,000 individual businesses from bankruptcy.
“Faced with this unprecedented crisis, we are fully mobilized to support Tunisia,” said Mohamed El Azizi, the Bank’s Managing Director for North Africa.
“Protecting populations, strengthening the resilience of health and social protection systems, preserving jobs and accelerating economic recovery through strategic investments are our priorities,” he added.
“We are supporting Tunisia by providing one-off assistance to more than two million people, 70% of whom are women, 350 000 very small businesses and almost 800 exporting companies in order to help the most vulnerable to cope with the economic and social consequences of the crisis, El Azizi said.
At the same time, nearly half a million people will be able to be tested”, assured the Bank’s Deputy Managing Director and Country Manager for Tunisia, Yacine Diama Fal.
“We will also work with the authorities to strengthen the resilience of the country’s economy to future shocks,” she added.
The partnership between Tunisia and the African Development Bank has been going on for almost half a century covering different sectors, including health, human development, energy, water, transport, agriculture and the financial sector.