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World Bank lines up $500m aid for NE

Guwahati, June 19: The World Bank, which has rebalanced its portfolio in favour of low-income states in the next five years, will provide $500 million to the Northeast.

“An assistance of $500 million is in the pipeline for different sectors in the Northeast,” said World Bank country director for India, Onno Ruhl, here today.

Onno was here to award grants totalling $1.4 million given by the India Development Marketplace to provide innovative service delivery solutions in Assam, Mizoram, and Meghalaya.

The World Bank’s Development Marketplace (DM) is a competitive grants programme that identifies, supports, and promotes innovative social enterprises that effectively deliver services to the poor.

Twelve innovative social enterprises were awarded the grants. Nine of them received $150,000 each for project implementation over 24 months while three received $25,000 each.

“We received nearly 200 proposals from organisations operating in northeastern states and across the country. The quality of the projects was good. The organisations have developed business models to expand access to crucial services in five high-impact areas — healthcare, financial services, education, water and sanitation,” Onno said.

The focus of 2014 India Development Marketplace is the Northeast to help support inclusive growth in this priority region. In the last five years, the World Bank has provided an assistance of $640 million in different sectors to the Northeast.

Onno said some of the projects in the anvil are on governance, power transmission, water resources management and health. “We are looking at assistance on urban development in smaller towns in Assam.” He said $50 million assistance was on the anvil for improving primary healthcare delivery in Nagaland. The Assam agricultural competitiveness project is coming to an end and there are indications of a follow-up project, which will be more on agri-business.

The World Bank’s country partnership strategy for India (2013-17) says it will rebalance its portfolio towards low-income and special category states in an effort to contribute to a more balanced growth across the country.

Since 2011, Development Marketplace has granted more than $3 million to 34 projects in six states in the country. “Half of them have gone into business,” Onno said.

“India is a source of innovation for the rest of the world and we hope that the selected enterprises can make good business,” he added.

Assam chief secretary Jitesh Khosla said platforms like Development Marketplace support and prepare high potential social enterprises to scale up services for the poor.

Of the 12 enterprises selected for grants, six have their headquarters in northeastern states while seven demonstrated innovative business models to improve access to affordable healthcare services in these states.

“These winners have demonstrated intent and potential to create a more meaningful impact in the lives of the poor. Their work with the communities helps us and the government understand what really works on the ground,” Onno said.


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