Norway pledges $9.17mil aid to Zim

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Harare - Norway announced on Monday that it would increase its aid to Zimbabwe by US$9.17 million.

The funds are expected to be channelled through non-governmental organisations, the United Nations and the World Bank.

"If the new government proves capable of functioning, Zimbabwe could become an example of a country that has avoided becoming a failed state.

"It is therefore important to support Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the new unity government to help the country rebuild," said Norway's Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim in a statement.

The funds will primarily be used for measures to improve health and education. They will help to ensure that children can go to school and that the sick once again have access to medical treatment, said the statement.

Some of the money will also be used for food aid and to support a World Bank multi-donor trust fund to support the rehabilitation process in the country. Norway will also provide support for implementation of the agreement between the government parties.

"When people who have risked their lives for democracy in Zimbabwe ask us to provide help, we have an obligation to do so. If we fail to support those who are fighting for change now, Zimbabwe could become a new Somalia. That is a chance neither Zimbabwe nor the rest of the world can take," said Mr Solheim.

The oil-rich Nordic country cut off direct aid to Zimbabwe in 2000 to protest against the government's policies but continued to supply aid through the United Nations and other organisations.

Zimbabwe has been appealing for $8.5 billion to rebuild its broken economy after forming a unity government in February. It had also requested help from South African Development Community countries.

Norway joins other countries and organisations which have come forward to give aid to the heavily-indebted African country.

Britain pledged $23.90 million in humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe last month.

Major donors have been reluctant to give new aid to the country until the government makes more tangible reforms to break from Mr Mugabe's past policies.