On May 27, 2016, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a $20 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to help refugees in Zambia integrate into the local population.
The IDA, which is a part of the World Bank, gives grants and zero-to-low-interest loans to the world’s poorest countries for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty and improve poor people’s lives.
This $20 million loan will go to the Zambia Displaced Persons and Border Communities Project. They plan to promote social cohesion and the integration of former refugees in Zambia, through investment in the livelihoods and socioeconomic infrastructure of the host communities.
Africa is home to nearly 20 percent of the world’s refugees. In both the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region of Africa, the World Bank is coordinating regional efforts to help both displaced persons and their host communities.
According to the World Bank, this regional approach is due to the steady increase in conflicts that cross international borders in Africa.
The more than 52,000 refugees in Zambia come from many nearby countries—Angola, Burundi, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—as a result of the violence and conflict in those nations.
Ede Ijiasz-Vasquez, Senior Director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, said situations depicting displaced people as a burden must be avoided. Instead, efforts to help should focus on creating a more inclusive environment.
The Zambia Project benefits both refugees and their host communities. The local integration of the former refugees contributes to the development of the surrounding area, strengthens the physical connection of former refugee areas to the wider districts and increases access to economic opportunities and services for everyone.
Valentin Tapsoba, Director of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), said that the UNHCR and the World Bank need to take actions that look at the bigger picture when addressing development needs.
“Our work in tandem with the World Bank is looking at refugee issues in the context of broader regional goals that increase livelihood opportunities, safety and dignity as a whole,” he said in a World Bank news feature.
In a press statement regarding the loan to Zambia, the World Bank Task Team Leader for the project, Natacha Lemasle, noted that the funding was necessary as the displacement of refugees tends to be long-term and unresolved. She also noted the potential for this project to serve as an example of the success and positive effects of local integration.
The two targeted resettlement areas in Zambia are Meheba and Mayukwayukwa in the North-Western and Western Provinces, respectively. The project is a part of the larger World Bank Great Lakes Region Displaced Persons and Border Communities programs.
– Anastazia Vanisko