GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Nearly two million people in the region have benefited from direct Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) assistance to borrowing member countries over the past ten years, as it responds to greater economic and financial difficulties in these territories.
In its 2013 Annual Report, released on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the board of governors held at the Guyana International Convention Centre, the CDB says it has scaled up its response to varying challenges with special attention given to natural disaster situations. Bank-supported investments have yielded significant results across many areas.
Among the CDB’s Contribution to Development Results since 2005 are:
• Improvements in classroom facilities and increased access to finance to over 260,000 students.
• Assisted in the training of more than 8,000 teachers which is expected to improve the quality of teaching and education.
• Provided skills training and technical assistance to over 7,000 business people in the micro, small and medium-sized business sector. It also increased access to credit for over 2,000 small business enterprises and individuals.
In the areas of social and economic infrastructure, the CDB financed the construction or rehabilitation of more than 3,700 kilometers of primary and secondary roads, benefitting an estimated 600, 000 people directly in the catchment areas and many more users indirectly.
It also provided more than 500,000 people with access to new or improved community buildings. The installation or upgrading of about 3,400 kilometers of water lines, affording about 200,000 people with access to clean water supply and improved sanitation.
In addition, the Bank continued its efforts at expanding opportunities to poor children in Haiti to complete the primary cycle of basic education. To this end, under Phase 2 of the Education For All (EFA) project, US$11 million was approved to continue the Bank’s assistance in the provision of tuition waivers and school feeding for poor and vulnerable students, as well as to improve the development of teacher and leadership capacity within the system.
The continued assistance will add the 3,600 trained teachers, the 135,000 students who benefited from waivers and the 25,000 who benefited from school feeding in Phase 1 of the project.
In what is a first for the CDB in this project, there will be the provision of the physical infrastructure through the construction of four schools in rural areas currently lacking physical school facilities.
These schools will provide access for early childhood, primary and multi-grade students, most of whom will be participating in formal schooling for the first time.
Despite the Bank’s successes, it notes that policymakers in the region are facing a number of critical challenges in 2014.
Citing the need for further fiscal adjustment in several borrowing member countries (BMCs), the CDB says this is juxtaposed with the imperative of increasing investment in infrastructure and undertake critical policy reforms to create a more enabling environment for private sector development.
The Bank says these challenges are compounded by the region’s vulnerability to natural hazards and the impact of climate change. There are also challenges associated with the dependence on imports for food and fuel.
According to the Bank, issues of access to adjustment, competitiveness, resilience and, critically, access to finance for investment in these areas will therefore be the focus of its engagements with its BMCs in 2014.