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Coronavirus: World Bank grants $100.4 Million in aid to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: April 5, 2020)

The World Bank on Thursday approved a $100.4 million grant for Afghanistan to fight the pandemic COVID-19 in the country.

The World Bank said in a statement that the aid is dedicated to Afghanistan for the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project to help Afghanistan take effective action to respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 and strengthen its public health preparedness.

“This new fast track package will cover all 34 Afghan provinces and reinforce essential health care services to slow down the spread of COVID-19 across Afghanistan and deliver optimum care in the case of a surge in demand for treatment,” the statement said.

The statement noted that the financing will support infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel as well as service providers, medical and testing facilities, and national health agencies.

The project is financed by a grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, in the amount of $100.4 million, of which $19.4 million is provided from the World Bank’s COVID-19 Fast-Track Facility. It will be implemented by the Ministry of Public Health supported by UN agencies and service providers already working under the Sehatmandi project.

“The World Bank stands firm with the Afghan government and people to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the country,” said , World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

“This emergency support package will help Afghanistan’s health system mitigate the impact of an outbreak and strengthen health services. The World Bank, together with the Government of Afghanistan and other partners, will work tirelessly to implement this project and is committed to helping Afghanistan lessen the impact posed by COVID-19 in the most effective way,” Kerali added.

The project will also help address significant negative externalities expected in the event of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak, including comprehensive health awareness and behavior change campaigns.

It comes as the number of positive cases for the Coronavirus has risen to 274 with six deaths in Afghanistan.

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Central bank to run campaign promote Afghani in western provinces

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(Last Updated On: May 26, 2020)

The government has set to launch a campaign over the use of Afghani currency instead of Iranian Rials in domestic transactions in western parts of the country.

Sharifullah Shagewal, a spokesman for the central bank of Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Bank said that the organization has set to boost the use of Afghani currency in local markets.

Shagewal added that the replacing Iranian Rials with Afghani currency could gain Afghani value against foreign currencies.

According to reports, many provinces sharing borders with Iran use Rials for transactions.

It comes as the organization launched a campaign in the past one year just to tell people not to use foreign currencies in Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Helmand, and Kandahar province, where public used to use Pakistani rupees in daily transactions.

Now, the De Afghanistan Back added that so far, it succeeded to prevent billions of Pakistani rupees from money circulation in the country.

Meanwhile, the central bank of Afghanistan urges the public to join the campaign by using Afghani currency instead of foreign currencies in their daily businesses.  

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Locusts attack along India-Pakistan border threatening food security

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2020)

There has been an increased risk along both sides of the India-Pakistan border, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said Friday.

FAO, in its Friday release, warned, “Despite control operations, recent heavy rains have created ideal conditions for the pest’s reproduction in several countries. Young juveniles will become voracious adults in June just as farmers begin to harvest, compounding an already bleak food security situation.”

Reports indicate that India has reached out to Pakistan to counter a locust invasion which threatens to destroy crops and undermine food security in the south and southwest Asia already threatened by the COVID19 pandemic.

According to Indian news outlets, swarms of desert locusts swept Jaipur on Monday as the insect onslaught spread wider to parts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh; while Gujarat and Punjab have warned their farmers of locust attacks.

This is the second round of locust attack in India, the first one having occurred during December-February.

Locust attacks in 12 countries, including Pakistan, Iran, and ten nations in Africa, have damaged crops over millions of hectares.

The World Bank has set up a $500 million program to help countries in Africa and the Middle East combat the impact of locusts.

It is noteworthy that the Locusts can destroy standing crops and devastate livelihoods of people – The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world and a single swarm covering 1 square kilometer can contain up to 80 million locusts.

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Pak-Afghan transit affairs to resume – MCIA

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(Last Updated On: May 23, 2020)

The transit problems via Pakistan will soon be resolved, and exports will begin through Torkham and Spin Boldak, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan reported.

The MCIA says it has been able to reach an agreement with the Pakistani to open the Spin Boldak and Torkham crossings for six days a week to transit.

According to officials, Afghanistan will be able to resume exports through the two crossings following the Eid holidays, noting, “It’s profitable to export through these ports.”

On the other hand, the private sector wants the MCIA to work out other export pathways in addition to that of Pakistan, reasoning “Pakistan’s path is never sure.”

According to officials in the Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock, here we are with the season to harvest fruit; the government must pave the ground for its export.

They also say, “Although it is closer and affordable, it is always uncertain to trade through Pakistan.”

In order for businesses to grow, the government must look for different ways, on national and international levels, experts emphasize.

Challenges triggered by politics have always threatened Afghanistan’s transit and trade relations with Pakistan.

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