WASHINGTON, November 22, 2013—Today the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a new Development Policy Operation for the island nation of Tuvalu to help it rebuild its financial reserves and deliver more effective health and education services for its population of 11,000 people.
Tuvalu, the World Bank’s smallest member country, faces unique economic and environmental challenges. High vulnerability to external economic shocks, drought and natural disasters have contributed to greater hardship over recent years, especially in the remote Outer Islands.
The country was particularly hard hit by the Global Financial Crisis in 2009, as remittances from overseas workers – mostly its many seafarers – more than halved from 2008 to 2012, and returns on financial assets held in the Tuvalu Trust Fund fell sharply.
“This support is designed to help strengthen fiscal sustainability and deliver quality health and education services that meet the needs of Tuvalu’s people,” said Franz Drees-Gross, Country Director for the World Bank in the Pacific Islands. “The country’s vision is one of a healthy, educated and prosperous nation and the World Bank is committed to helping Tuvalu meet these goals.”
The operation will encourage greater investment in primary and secondary education, as well as basic and preventative healthcare, which benefit the majority of Tuvaluans, especially poorer households. It will also support ongoing efforts to strengthen medical treatment and scholarship programs, with a focus on improving patient management processes and course completion rates.
Reforms supported under the operation will also help the Government of Tuvalu strengthen accounting, revenue management and budget execution, as well as improve project management in ‘Kaupules’ (local councils) to enable the timely provision of public services in the Outer Islands.
The policy support is being funded with a grant for US$3 million from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).