SYDNEY, February 17, 2014 – The World Bank today announced that it would be funding repairs to the port, airport and damaged roads in Ha’apai, all badly affected by Tropical Cyclone Ian, as part of provisions under its Transport Sector Consolidation project which is supported by the Government of Australia.
A World Bank team recently returned from visiting cyclone-affected communities in the Ha’apai island group, which suffered the most devastating impacts as a result of the Category 5 cyclone on January 11th and 12th, 2014.
Initial damage assessments have shown that 5,500 people have been affected by Cyclone Ian, with many losing their homes and crops, and there has been considerable damage to community infrastructure. In total, 943 buildings have been destroyed or badly damaged.
The World Bank team reported preliminary estimates of total damages and losses at TOP93 million (around US $50 million), equivalent to 11 percent of the country’s GDP.
“Cyclone Ian has caused devastating losses to thousands of people and recovery will require long term efforts to rebuild safer and stronger,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands. “The World Bank is currently assessing how best it may contribute to recovery in Ha’apai, in accordance with the wishes of the Tongan government.
“To date, the Bank has confirmed it will invest US $1 million in the transport sector which can be allocated quickly under its Transport project, alongside the risk insurance payout of US $1.27 million announced on January 23rd, that is supporting immediate relief efforts.
“Going forward, other possible areas of support include the housing sector. The World Bank is exploring possible avenues in this regard and is currently providing technical assistance to the Government to assess housing needs, and develop a reconstruction policy and framework.”
Repairs to transport infrastructure on Ha’apai will be funded under the Transport Sector Consolidation project, supported by the Government of Australia, which is working to improve transport safety and effectiveness in Tonga.