The World Bank Board of Directors this week approved a loan of US$50 million over five years to the Government of Botswana to assist the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, a key government priority.
The Botswana National HIV/AIDS Prevention Support (BNAPS) Project leverages a European Commission grant allocation of US$20 million to finance the “buy-down” of this IBRD project, which effectively enables a zero-interest project loan.
┬áThe IBRD loan buy-down mechanism was developed to increase the flexibility and concessionality of funding for projects where it is justified by global public good or cross-border externalitiesÔÇöin this case targeting a priority health intervention. To date, the buy-down mechanism has been piloted in one other IBRD project, in support of tuberculosis control in China.
World Bank Senior Health Specialist, Sheila Dutta, project leader, says the project development objective is to assist the Government of Botswana to increase the coverage, efficiency, and sustainability of targeted and evidence-based HIV/AIDS interventions.
“This will be done financing strategic and innovative HIV/AIDS-related prevention and mitigation activities, particularly at community-level.” The BNAPS Project is designed to strengthen and support the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Framework, with emphasis on the prioritized goals of prevention and strengthened management of the national response.┬á┬á
World Bank Lead Operations Officer for Botswana, Dirk Reinermann, notes that the project is also fully aligned with the draft Interim Strategy Note for Botswana which is expected to be presented to the Board in late 2008.
“The forthcoming Interim Strategy Note, which is the first-ever Bank strategy for Botswana, includes HIV/AIDS among its three strategic priorities.”
┬áExisting institutions in Botswana will implement the BNAPS Project. However, where needed, the project will help ensure that the existing institutions, systems and processes are strengthened to help ensure improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall national response. The three main project components are: support to the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA); support to public sector ministries in line with the National Strategic Framework; and the majority of project funding for civil society organizations and the private sector, reflecting their importance in achieving national program goals.
The World Bank is working closely with other key development partners, including PEPFAR (the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief ), (CDC/USAID), African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP), European Commission, and the UN family, in supporting NACA’s goal of establishing a stronger and more coordinated response to HIV/AIDS in Botswana. The Project will support Joint Annual National Program reviews with all key partners.
┬áExpanding its HIV/AIDS response in Southern Africa is an institutional and partnership commitment by the Bank. The rationale for the development of a specific operational strategy for Botswana derives from both the extraordinarily high burden of HIV/AIDS-related disease and the need for innovative financial instruments to enable greater Bank engagement. The Southern Africa sub-region ÔÇô comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland ÔÇô is paradoxically, both the most economically developed sub-region in Sub-Saharan Africa (all but Lesotho are IBRD countries), and the epicenter of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.