PORT VILA, March 13, 2023 – The World Bank has disbursed a US$9.5 million (VUV 1.13 billion) grant to support the Government of Vanuatu’s response to Severe Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin, and a 6.5 Mw earthquake in Vanuatu’s north.
The emergency funding will provide vital support to the government’s recovery and response efforts following the disasters.
The Government of Vanuatu has declared a six-month State of Emergency following the disasters. While reports on the full extent of the damage are still coming in, experience has shown that the most vulnerable communities tend to bear the brunt of disasters such as these, and the economic toll will be significant.
“We stand with Vanuatu as it confronts the impacts of the tragic convergence of disasters,” said Stephen Ndegwa, World Bank Country Director for the Pacific and Papua New Guinea. “While these are still early days in Vanuatu’s response, these funds can play an important part in assisting the most vulnerable, supporting damage assessments to better direct responses, and alleviating the impact on families and communities across Vanuatu.”
The funding has been made available through the Second Development Policy Grant with a Catastrophe-Deferred Drawdown Option that was approved by the World Bank in June 2022. Along with provisions for emergency response, this operation was designed to improve risk reduction, preparedness, and recovery from disasters.
Economic modelling suggests that Vanuatu already faces an average of US$48 million per year in risk to assets from earthquakes and cyclones alone. In 2020, Cyclone Harold caused US$617 million (61% of GDP) in economic impacts.
“While we review the damage and impact of the cyclones and earthquake, the Government is preparing to provide more support, shelter, and assistance to those impacted,” said Vanuatu’s Minister for Finance and Economic Management, Hon. John Salong. “This assistance from the World Bank will play an important role in assuring the Government has the necessary resources at hand to provide for those most affected.”
Annette Leith, World Bank Resident Representative for Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands added that the ability to quickly deliver such support is the result of considerable planning between the World Bank and the Government of Vanuatu in recent years.
“Our earlier support to the Government of Vanuatu has aimed to strengthen the country’s disaster resilience with a focus on life saving preparedness, standby financing, and more resilient infrastructure, including in Port Vila. The events of the past several days are sad reminders of why that work remains so important,” said Ms. Leith.
The US$9.57million Catastrophe-Deferred Drawdown Option grant is funded by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries.