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World Bank to support public service decentralization in Yemen

THE LEVANT – Yemen is to receive a $50m World Bank grant to help improve access to basic services such as schools, water and public health facilities, and aid the process of decentralisation to local government.

The International Development Association grant will top up the bank’s ongoing Community and Local Development Program, a core component of the Social Fund for Development Phase IV Project covering the years 2011 to 2016.

As well as improving access to services, the programme passes power down to local communities by asking them to identify infrastructure projects that would meet their needs.

It also includes a capacity-building programme so that communities and local authorities can implement the projects they identify.

‘Meeting the basic needs of Yemenis is vital for sustaining the country’s political transition,’ said Wael Zakout, World Bank country manager for Yemen.

‘The Social Fund for Development has proved to be an effective organisation, continuing to function throughout the crisis, and its system of autonomous, regional offices allows it to operate in the entire country – even in remote areas with limited government presence.’

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According to the bank, the programme has helped 4.5 million Yemenis to date, particularly women and girls.

Mira Hong, World Bank task team leader for the project, said: ‘The needs of girls and women are a primary focus, for instance, with increased access to schools and reproductive health services. More than half of the health and education professionals that have so far been trained through the programme are women.’

The total budget for the six-year Yemen project is $1.2bn, of which $85m is from the IDA, with the remainder coming from the Yemeni government and 12 other donors.

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