U.S. helps people and economies of Africa recover from COVID-19

Illustration of helicopter dropping aid onto map of Africa (State Dept./D. Thompson)
(State Dept./D. Thompson)

The United States continues to help African nations fight COVID-19 while also helping their economies recover from the pandemic.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in October launched a three-year Local Works program that will provide $7 million to help Kenya’s tourism industry recover from the pandemic. The program works with Kenyans to attract investment and support economic empowerment, especially for women and youth.

“This program highlights what we value most: partnerships that are Kenya-owned, Kenya-led and Kenya-managed,” USAID Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa said in an October 6 tweet.

The United States has invested more than $60 billion in the health of sub-Saharan African nations over the past 20 years. So far, the United States has donated more than $488 million in equipment, training and education to help African countries combat COVID-19.

In response to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, the United States supported International Monetary Fund and World Bank actions to provide economic relief. That included the Debt Service Suspension Initiative that has given African countries the ability to refocus up to $6 billion in financial resources on fighting the pandemic in 2020. It will provide even more deferments in 2021.

Since October 2019, the United States has provided more than $436 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan. This includes $39 million to fight COVID-19, part of an $81 million aid package for the country that has faced historic flooding while battling the pandemic.

Since the middle of July, widespread flooding has killed more than 120 people and destroyed or damaged 166,000 buildings. The new funding will provide emergency shelter, health, water, sanitation, and hygiene to millions of people across Sudan.

In late October, the United States set up a $1.4 million, 40-bed field hospital in South Africa’s northwest province to help local officials fight a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.

The United States has purchased seven 40-bed and seven 30-bed negative-pressure isolation hospitals for African partners, according to the U.S. Department of Defense Africa Command.