The Global Heroes


22nd January 2024 By The Global Heroes Environment and Disasters

The Kingdom of Tonga, a nation grappling with the profound impacts of climate change and natural disasters, is set to receive a crucial lifeline from the World Bank. In a significant move, the World Bank has approved a US$25 million (TOP$58.7 million) grant for Tonga, aimed at fortifying the nation's financial and debt sustainability, and augmenting its resilience against climate and disaster-related challenges.

Two years have elapsed since the devastating Tonga Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption wreaked havoc on the island nation. The aftermath, marked by a tsunami and ashfall, directly affected over 85,000 Tongans, causing damages amounting to US$90.4 million (TOP$208 million)—equivalent to a staggering 18.5% of Tonga's GDP.

Recognizing the urgent need for comprehensive measures, the Tongan government has prioritized bolstering fiscal, disaster, and climate resilience to foster growth and development. The World Bank's approval of the Tonga First Fiscal, Disaster, and Climate Change Resilience Development Policy Operation, coupled with a Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat DDO), signifies a crucial step forward. This includes a development policy grant of US$5 million (TOP$11.7 million) and an option to swiftly access an additional US$20 million (TOP$47 million) in case of major crises or disasters triggered by weather, seismic activity, or health emergencies.

Stefano Mocci, World Bank Country Manager for the South Pacific, emphasized the commitment to supporting Tonga alongside other partners. The grant aims to strengthen social protection systems, foster economic prosperity, and create more resilient communities.

The World Bank operation aligns with Tonga's initiatives to enhance domestic revenue mobilization, reduce national debt, and fortify defenses against climate change and natural disasters. Notably, the plan includes the development of robust National Disaster Response Management plans to expedite emergency assistance post-severe weather events. The approval of a comprehensive National Social Protection policy further ensures timely and efficient disaster response, particularly for the country's most vulnerable citizens.

The Hon. Tiofilusi Tiueti, Tongan Minister of Finance, acknowledges the progress made since the volcanic eruption but underscores the ongoing challenges posed by climate change. The grant, funded through the International Development Association (IDA), serves as a beacon of hope, empowering Tonga to navigate future shocks with resilience and fortitude, ensuring swift response and recovery from disasters.

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