The World Bank has been scaling up its assistance in the Pacific Islands and is moving from a regional approach to individual country strategies to better acknowledge country-specific challenges and priorities. In recent years, the World Bank has developed specific country strategies for Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, with other Pacific Islands countries to follow.
The Bank Group’s engagement with the Pacific Island countries reflects the fact that their development trajectories have been influenced by their economic geography, with unique challenges arising from remoteness.
In the aviation sector, the World Bank is helping Tonga and Kiribati improve safety and security at major airports. These efforts will promote integration among Pacific Islands countries, and also improve connectivity with the region and the world.
The Bank is supporting rural development through several projects, including in Samoa and through the Rural Development Project in Solomon Islands. The RDP has helped hundreds of communities develop critical infrastructure, like bridges, schools, health clinics and access to water and electricity.
In the health sector, the Bank is supporting the Government of Samoa’s reform program aimed at promoting preventative healthcare, and ensuring equitable access to a modern, efficient health service.
High population growth and high unemployment has become a serious problem in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands. The World Bank is helping the government to assist the most vulnerable of Honiara's population, particularly youth and women, by providing short-term employment and trainings.
In the energy sector, the Bank is working with the Government of Vanuatu explore options to reduce vulnerability to oil price volatility, such as helping develop renewable energy through geothermal power. In Tonga, The World Bank is supporting a series of investments and reforms to improve access and reduce electricity cost.
In the mining sector, the World Bank is providing technical assistance to the Solomon Islands Government in reviewing policies and regulations. Activities include raising awareness o f the importance of women’s role in the negotiation and management of royalties, and supporting Solomon Islands to sign up to the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative.
The Bank is supporting initiatives to improve access to telecommunications in countries across the region, through individual reform programs in Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa, Kiribati and Solomon Islands, and the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, working to provide improved internet access across the region. These initiatives aim to help connect people and businesses to services, markets and information, regionally and beyond.
In 2009, a devastating tsunami struck the shores of Tonga and Samoa. The Bank is supporting the governments in restoring livelihoods and infrastructure in affected communities, while also improving their resilience to future disasters. The Bank is also supporting infrastructure work in Kiribati by rehabilitating roads in the country.
With most Pacific Island countries comprising of low lying islands, they are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea level rise. Efforts to help Pacific Island nations promote adaptation to climate change will be essential to ensure long-term resilience and security.
Pacific Island countries derive significant economic and social benefits from their marine resources. This is a major opportunity for the region: Twenty million square kilometers of the South Pacific are home to the largest tuna fishery in the world. The World Bank has developed a Fisheries Engagement Strategy to help Pacific Island countries capture a greater share of the benefits from their fisheries, while supporting conservation.