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PRESS RELEASE

World Bank Endorses $10 million from Emergency Fund to Support Reconstruction in Tonga

March 20, 2014

TONGA, March 20, 2014 --- The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today endorsed a plan to contribute approximately US$10 million to the Government of Tonga, to support the reconstruction and repair of houses for hundreds of families in Ha'apai whose homes were badly damaged or destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Ian in January this year.

A World Bank team is already on the ground working with Government counterparts to design a project to deliver this support.  Under the current proposal, this financing would provide up to 600 climate-and-disaster-resilient houses that would ensure families can move out of temporary shelters as quickly as possible.

“These funds will help to get cyclone affected families into permanent structures that can later be expanded,” said Franz Drees-Gross, Country Director for the Pacific Islands for the World Bank. “The allocation of this emergency funding is the first step in the process. We plan to have an Emergency Housing Reconstruction Project designed and approved by the end of May.” 

The Government of Australia will reallocate US$1 million from the Transport Sector Consolidation Project (TSCP) to carry out immediate recovery activities in the aviation, maritime and road transport sectors.

“The Government is working with our partners, including the World Bank, to help affected communities to recover from the destruction caused by this natural disaster, ” said ‘Aisake Valu Eke, Tonga’s Minister of Finance and National Planning. “We welcome the World Bank’s willingness to both make these emergency funds available to our Government and to reallocate existing resources to allow us to meet our most pressing infrastructure needs in this response.”

Tropical Cyclone Ian was a Category 5 Cyclone which swept across Tonga’s Ha’apai island group on January 11th and 12th 2014, causing one death, displacing thousands of people and causing major devastation to crops and infrastructure. According to reports, power and communication networks were affected and up to 75 percent of buildings have been damaged in some parts of Ha’apai.

The housing reconstruction efforts will be led by the Ministry of Infrastructure with the support of the Transport Sector Consolidation Project Management Unit.

This financing comes from the World Bank’s Crisis Response Window (CRW) that exists within the International Development Association (IDA) - the World Bank’s fund for poor countries. It supplements US$58 million in financing already approved for Tonga since July 2011. Funding is expected to be provided to the Government as half grants and half zero interest rate concessional credits.

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