Samoa among recipients of $235 million in A.D.B. financing

Samoa is among eight Pacific Island nations who will benefit from US$94 million ($235.3 million) in Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) contingent disaster financing under its Pacific Disaster Resilience Program.

The Manila-based regional development bank has announced in a media statement that it has approved $94 million in contingent disaster financing (C.D.F.) for the third phase of its Pacific Disaster Resilience Program to help boost disaster resilience in the region.

Phase 3 of the program provides another round of financing for the Pacific members who drew down on their C.D.F. Programs for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic – the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (F.S.M.), the Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Tonga – plus Tuvalu after it drew down the funds in February 2020 in response to Cyclone Tino.

The A.D.B. will also provide CDF for the first time to Kiribati and Vanuatu.

The bank’s assistance comprises policy-based loans to the Cook Islands and Palau, and policy-based grants to the F.S.M., Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. 

All 10 countries have made significant progress in strengthening the resilience of institutions and communities through three reform areas under Phase 3, which the regional development bank says build on the previous phases of the program.

Those reforms include strengthening institutional arrangements for risk management, improving risk-informed investment planning processes, and expanding risk financing. 

Aside from disasters caused by natural hazards, Phase 3 has been expanded to reflect health-related emergencies, added the A.D.B. statement.

A new post-program partnership framework was developed for each country to reflect their future targets and priorities on strengthening resilience.

“Phase 3 will help restore the financial resilience of the Pacific members to pre-COVID-19 levels,” said A.D.B. Senior Climate Change Specialist for the Pacific, Hanna Uusimaa. “The program supports critical actions on disaster risk management, along with urgent measures required by the countries to prepare for COVID-19, and address its economic impacts.”

The bank’s program will provide a timely and predictable source of emergency financing following disasters caused by natural hazards and health emergencies to rapidly implement priority actions and reduce the indirect economic and social costs of physical losses.

The announcement by the regional development bank coincides with the releasing of a joint statement by the European Union and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (P.I.F.S.) on Thursday, on the signing of a new financing agreement to repurpose €22 million (AU$36 million) in support of the Pacific region’s response to COVID-19 through the “Health Support in response to COVID-19 in the Pacific” programme. 

The programme will boost the readiness and ability of 15 countries to effectively combat and protect themselves against the pandemic and will pay special attention to those living in vulnerable situations.

While signing the agreement on the margins of the 5th Regional Steering Committee at P.I.F.S., the European Union Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, Sujiro Seam said: ‘‘The E.U. recognizes the leadership of Pacific Island Countries and their regional organisations in containing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The low caseload in the region should not lead to complacency. The Team Europe Health Support in Response to COVID-19 will help Pacific Island Countries keep their guard up. It complements the existing EU support to strengthen health systems in the region.”

In her remarks, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor said: “This E.U. support has helped Pacific nations to address priority health, safety, and protective measures at both the regional and national level, and ensured the Pacific has not seen the massive loss of life experienced in other parts of the world. 

“The funds have helped make the most of regional action through our Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19, ensuring supplies, test kits and protective gear for health personnel have reached all our nations.”

The programme will support the delivery of essential equipment, medication, and services, and enable the countries to better diagnose, treat and manage COVID-19 cases. 

Early detection of cases remains critical in the Pacific countries, which are highly vulnerable to importation of the disease. This support from the E.U. aims to ensure they have continuous access to test kits and can promptly identify cases of COVID-19.

The 15 countries are: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

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