Ten Pacific Island countries which are members of the World Bank have a population of about 3.4 million people, scattered across an area equivalent to 15 percent of the globe’s surface, with a development trajectory that will be shaped by their economic geography.
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World Bank approves US$47.5 million for the Palau-Federated States of Micronesia Connectivity ProjectWASHINGTON, December 17, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved the se... Show More +cond phase of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program (PRCP) – addressing the need for more widespread access to Information & Communication Technology (ICT) in the Northern Pacific.The project will support more widely available broadband internet and associated value-added services needed to support social and economic development in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) by reducing the cost and increasing the capacity of international bandwidth.“This phase of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program will assist the Federated States of Micronesia in overcoming its challenges of remoteness and dispersed geography,” said Franz Drees-Gross, Country Director for the World Bank in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. “Increasing access to affordable ICT will allow individuals, businesses, government and nongovernment agencies in the FSM to take advantage of the benefits better connectivity can bring, including improved social and economic opportunities and better service delivery.”The project consists of a US$47.5 million grant to the FSM, to be co-financed by a planned US$25 million Asian Development Bank loan to the Republic of Palau. PRCP will support the construction of submarine cable systems to connect Palau with the FSM state of Yap and the US territory of Guam; and the FSM states of Chuuk and Pohnpei; as well as the provision of next generation satellite broadband for the FSM state of Kosrae.In addition to infrastructure investment, the project will provide technical assistance to the FSM to further improve the environment for ICT development, including a strengthened regulatory framework overseen by a new independent regulator – building on pro-competitive legislation enacted in April 2014. The MicroPal Fiber Optic Joint Committee established by the Governments of the FSM and the Republic of Palau will oversee planning and implementation of the project.The second phase of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program is funded through a US$47.5 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. The first phase of this program was the Tonga-Fiji Connectivity Project, co-financed with the Asian Development Bank and Tonga Communications Corporation. The cable to Tonga became operational in August 2013. Show Less -
Supporting the most vulnerablePriority was given to the replacement of destroyed or damaged housing for the most vulnerable members of the community. Consultations took place with the government and c... Show More +ommunities to determine who fell into this category. Ultimately, the most ‘vulnerable’ were defined as those who had members of the family who were disabled, single parents, or widowed. They were also those who have eight or more people in the immediate family, had low or no remittances, or where the head of the household was aged 65 years or older.These ‘houses for vulnerable’ (H4V) provide two rooms for the family to move into and will be the first completed.“When we came back after the cyclone our house was blown away,” said ‘Eseta Fakahua, mother of seven who received one of the first houses built. ”We are very happy to have this house and we are looking forward to staying here for the rest of our lives.”Other housing activities are also scheduled. For instance, eligible families will receive support to replace, repair, or retrofit homes for climate resilience.Preparing for the futureIn many places, houses constructed to climate-resilient standards in the early 1980s withstood Cyclone Ian. However, newer homes were completely destroyed or severely damaged. It’s vital that the project includes preparation and resilience against future natural disasters.All houses being constructed through the program are climate-resilient and can withstand wind speeds to up to 70 meters (230 feet) per second. Retrofitting and repairing will also take place to strengthen houses for up to 1,000 eligible families. Community facilities, including the main Lifuka market, will be reconstructed and strengthened.“For the houses, we used the design that has been tested before and that’s in accordance to the Category 3/Category 4 cyclone resistant standards,” said Uatea Salesa, Project Manager of the Tropical Cyclone Ian Reconstruction Project. “Our aim is, probably towards the end of the year, that those families will be back into their houses.” Show Less -
Technology for the FutureThe initiative builds on earlier World Bank assistance in Samoa aimed at delivering short term disaster relief through budget support, by focusing on longer term recovery.Deve... Show More +lopers say that the new system could enable targeted payments across the Pacific, where access to mobile phones has recently escalated to reach more than two million people. Additionally, the technology could be used not only for rapid disaster response, but also for social or other insurance, or services delivery.Building on the success of the pilot program, the project is rolling out the e-voucher system to a total of nearly 7,400 farmers and fishermen, many of whom will have received funds by the end of this year. This will provide a significant boost to agriculture production and subsequent incomes, helping Samoa to build a more resilient agricultural sector for the future. Show Less -
Better Technology, New MarketsThe report looks at case studies that illustrate governance lessons and recommendations to assure that fish resources deliver their full contribution to economic growth. ... Show More +Foreign arrangements can offer better technologies for fishing and processing while opening up new and more profitable markets for fish products.In the Western Pacific, regional cooperation between neighboring coastal states has allowed greater returns to all countries involved in the tuna fishery. By defining access rights and putting into place uniform and cooperative surveillance and management systems, these small-island developing states have gained more control over their tuna resources. Furthermore, competitive arrangements for distant water nations involved in tuna fishing services significantly increased the flow of benefits to domestic development."All of our efforts are underpinned by a strong commitment to sustainable resource management," said Movick. "Some indicators of recent success include a near doubling in the value of tuna catch from FFA waters between 2007 and 2013 and a quadrupling of access fees in that period. There has been a 50% increase in employment of Pacific Islanders in the tuna fishery from 12,000 to 18,000 jobs over the same period.”Improving Governance and Securing Access RightsThe report distills the lessons learned from case studies into nine key recommendations to improve foreign access arrangements. Among them, the report emphasizes the importance of effective governance and access rights for all fisheries within a country’s exclusive economic zone.“The case studies provide critical practical caveats and important governance lessons,” says Tim Bostock, World Bank Senior Fisheries and Oceans Specialist. “As sovereign resource owners, governments of coastal developing countries are ultimately accountable to their populations for the productive use of natural resources, enabling their contribution to economies, welfare and shared prosperity. Without doubt, foreign fishing arrangements as a form of free trade in fishing services could make important contributions to this objective.”The report strongly recommends that all domestic participants in the sector, especially small-scale fishers, must be involved in decision making not only on policies aimed at secure and enforceable tenure and use rights, but also in regard to future foreign fishing.These conclusions reinforce the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel in their report Indispensable Ocean: Aligning Ocean Health and Human Well-Being. The panel of experts and leaders from around the world and across sectors advised that investments must equitably respond to needs of all users of ocean resources and also sustainable use of the environment. Trade in Fishing Services provides further guidance on policies and practices that align ocean health and human well-being.Analyzing the Legal Principles that Underpin Foreign AccessThe report reveals significant legal ramifications. Coming into force some 31 years ago, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has generally been interpreted to suggest that coastal states are obliged to make available their ‘surplus’ fish stocks to exploitation by other states. The report reveals that, in fact, coastal states have no obligation to do so and need only engage in foreign access arrangements should it be in their economic interest to do so. The report queries the extent to which this fact has been misinterpreted in the past; it also queries the extent to which some developing coastal states may have entered into foreign access arrangements on the assumption that they were obliged to do so under this Convention.This report should help inform coastal states of their rights under international law so they may allocate fish resources and services with economically and socially beneficial strategies.With better and more transparent arrangements, there is an optimistic vision for the future of fish stock, human well-being and international cooperation. Show Less -
Overcoming challenges in constructionProject delays have resulted from logistical challenges, including the slow delivery of supplies via boat, a largely unskilled technical workforce, and high tides.... Show More + Additionally, the average land width in South Tarawa is just 450 meters (1476.4 feet) which leaves limited space for construction.Despite challenges, people have been able to adapt to changed conditions caused by construction.“We thought the main problem would be traffic, given that there are no other venues to divert the road. However, road users appear to have adjusted with no major issues,” Tira said.The project is expected to be completed in 2017, including a two-year maintenance period following the main civil works. Show Less -