The objective of the project is to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 and to strengthen national health systems for preparedness in India.
This project is proposed under the COVID-19 Recovery Facility.
The project aims to deliver a combination of emergency response and health system capacity building efforts consistent with the COVID-19 containment plan that was recently developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India (GOI) with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners. In addition to scaling up interventions to limit human- to-human transmission, health systems strengthening interventions will be rolled out to improve the country’s capacity to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic and to be better prepared to respond to any future disease outbreaks.
The project will comprise six components:
AIIB (the Bank) will co-finance this project with the World Bank (WB). The Bank has agreed to use WB’s Environmental and Social Framework WB ESF) of 2016 as i) the WB ESF is consistent with the Bank’s Articles of Agreement and materially consistent with the provisions of the Bank’s Environmental and Social Policy and the relevant Environmental and Social Standards; and ii) the monitoring procedures that are in place are appropriate for the project.
Given the nature and potential of spread of the COVID-19 pathogen, the environmental and social risks are rated “Substantial” by WB. However, the project is expected to have mostly positive environmental and social impacts, insofar as it should improve COVID-19 surveillance, monitoring, case management and containment, thereby preventing a wider spread of the disease.
Overall environmental and social due diligence, impact, and risk management for this project will be carried out under WB’s ESF. The MOHFW and several state governments have good experience working with the Bank and adhering to its safeguard’s frameworks. India’s updated Biomedical Waste Management Rules (March 2018) have adequate provisions for handling, transport, and disposal of infectious waste.
India’s current response to the COVID-19 situation matches that of WHO advisories. However, the MOHFW has agreed to prepare an Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) for the project that would include mitigation actions for boosting capacity and training on Bio Medical Waste Management, upgrading of COVID-19 biosecurity and quarantine measures, use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), improved laboratory management systems, and social and behavior awareness on newer concepts like social distancing, sneezing and coughing etiquette, etc. The ESMF will also include provisions to address the requirements of screening, isolation, and treatment of marginalized and vulnerable communities by ensuring services and supplies based on the urgency of the need, in line with the latest data related to the prevalence of the cases.
An Environment and Social Commitment Plan (ESCP) and a Stakeholder Engagement Plan (SEP) will be prepared and disclosed by MOHFW (a preliminary SEP has already been disclosed and is available in WB’s website in the link provided at the end of this paragraph). The ESCP will indicate that the ESMF will be prepared within 60 days of project effectiveness and updated regularly as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Similarly, the SEP will be revised periodically based on need and on the changing context of the COVID-19 emergency. Any activities, which will be screened to have significant impacts according to the ESMF will not be initiated before an updated ESMF, and any additional environmental and social assessment documents (if required), are in place. All the relevant environmental and social documents can be found at WB’s website at https://projects.worldbank.org/en/projects-operations/document-detail/P173836
Prasanna V Salian
Department of Economic Affairs
Ministry of Finance
Government of India
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Government of India