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
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.