On Friday, the World Bank approved a $450 million loan to Tanzania. This will be the first disbursement made to the East African nation in almost a year.
In November 2018, the Washington-based lender withdrew on a decision to loan Tanzania $300 million due to major concerns on some of the nation’s policies. Those concerns included passing a law that made it illegal to question official statistics. The government also demanded that pregnant girls in public schools be expelled.
Tanzanian schools went as far as conducting compulsory pregnancy tests on girls, those found pregnant were sent home and asked not to return to school even after childbirth.
In an official statement, a spokesman said the World Bank “supports policies that encourage girls’ education and make it possible for young girls to study in schools until they reach their full potential.”
Working with partners, the bank will “continue to advocate girls’ access to education through our dialogue with the Tanzania government,” the statement reads.
The world bank isn’t the only institution that refuted this policy. Denmark – Tanzania’s second-biggest donor – announced it was withholding $10 million towards the same cause. Denmark insists that it will not aid funding towards human rights abuses and “unacceptable homophobic comments.”
Due to this disapproval, the government amended the statistics law in June to remove the threat of jail. However, there is yet to be an amendment to the rules on teenage pregnancy.
“The World Bank has been engaging with the government of Tanzania on a range of policy issues that led to a hold-up of financing since 2018”, the Bank said in a statement.
The bank added that “Approval of this project acknowledges efforts by the government of Tanzania to address the policy issues by amending the statistics law (2018) in line with international practice, as well as the government’s commitment to facilitate all girls to complete their education.”
While it is not clear when or if the embargo on pregnant girls will be lifted, the World Bank’s involvement in the issue is a good step towards achieving this.
Also, the apex bank plays a vital role in the third-largest East African state. Aside from being its biggest lender, the country depends on some of its loans and grants as a source of foreign exchange.
“We will continue to work with the government and engage with citizens and other stakeholders on the complex set of development issues facing the country and its people,”the World Bank’s country director for Tanzania, Bella Bird reaffirmed.