The World Bank board of executive directors has approved a new five-year Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Malawi with a proposed $695 million (about K245 billion) package.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the bank said the new CAS, to run from 2013 to 2017 financial years, will support Malawi’s economic growth and transformation as well as its effort to diversify the economy and make it more competitive and resilient to shocks.

“Through this new CAS, the World Bank Group is committed to continue to help Malawi accelerate progress towards poverty reduction and successful economic transformation,” said Sandra Bloemenkamp, country manager for Malawi and team leader for the CAS.

She said the total World Bank commitment to Malawi currently stands at close to $1 billion (almost K350 billion) “and will work closely with the government and other stakeholders in ensuring strong development results are achieved through this new partnership.”

According to the statement, the new strategy is aligned with the Second Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS II) which covers years 2011 to 2016 while taking into account the new government’s priorities of economic diversification, reducing vulnerability and improving infrastructure, as outlined in the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).

The statement said the new strategy will, among several areas, continue to support some already existing projects such as the Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf), Agriculture and Irrigation programmes, investment in key infrastructure sectors such as Energy, Mining, Water, Natural Resources Management, Education, HIV and Aids and Nutrition, and in Higher Education and Skills.

The new CAS brings the World Bank’s support and commitment to Malawi to about $3 billion since Malawi became a member of the bank after independence.

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