Additional World Bank funding will strengthen Tonga’s resilience to future disasters and climate-related emergencies
WASHINGTON, July 2, 2022 – The World Bank’s Board of Directors has approved additional financing of $19.5 million (approximately TOP46 million) for disaster recovery and resilience projects in Tonga. This includes work to strengthen Tonga’s ongoing recovery from the January Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami, work to strengthen emergency early warning systems, and efforts to make schools safer and stronger in the face of future disasters.
“Since 2018, natural disasters such as Tropical Cyclones Gita and Harold, as well as the recent Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption have caused damages and losses estimated at $457 million for Tonga,” said Lasse Melgaard, World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific. “This has had an immense impact on Tongans, and we are happy to continue supporting Tonga and supporting recovery efforts.
“Yet we know that Tonga remains at significant risk of climate-related disasters, so it is essential that we continue to strengthen early warning systems and invest in stronger and safer infrastructure for students and students. communities across the country.”
The new financing will add US$14.5 million to the Tonga Safe and Resilient Schools Project, bringing the total project to $29.5 million. This will further support the Government of Tonga’s ongoing repair, recovery and reconstruction efforts for schools affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami. It will also increase investments in stronger building materials, better designs and better maintenance of schools. This will better protect schools against future disasters and climatic events and ensure that Tongan children do not lose valuable learning time in the wake of a disaster.
In addition, the new funding will also provide an additional $5 million to the Tonga component of the Pacific Resilience Program (PREP) – bringing the project to a total of $39 million – to further strengthen the early warning systems of emergency and improve disaster preparedness. Since its inception in Tonga in 2015, PREP has already provided extensive disaster response training to government personnel and supported the construction and opening of two new emergency operations centres, one in Ha ‘apai and the other in Vava’u. These centers – and the training of the personnel operating them – were critical to the immediate response to the volcano and January tsunami; and keeping remote sites in contact with the government and communicating the most critical support needed.
“Tonga has been hit by multiple disasters in recent years; the volcanic eruption and tsunami in January, and the first community transmission of COVID-19 in February 2022. Recovering the volcano alone will cost at least $165 million, or about 33% of Tonga’s GDP,” Explain Tonga’s Minister of Finance, Hon. Tatafu Moeaki. “We are grateful for this support from the World Bank which will not only help us recover, but also build the continued resilience of Tongan communities in the face of climate and natural disasters.”
Additional funding for both projects comes from a combination of the International Development Association (IDA) Crisis Response Window and the Papua New Guinea and Pacific Islands Multi-Donor Trust Fund.
PRESS RELEASE No: 2023/002/EAP
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