The World Bank Group’s engagement with Pacific Island countries reflects the influence of the region’s economic geography on their development trajectories, with unique challenges arising from remoteness.
The World Bank is rapidly increasing its assistance in the Pacific Islands region with a significant increase in funds available through the International Development Association (IDA). Working in partnership with 12 countries across the region, the World Bank is currently supporting 88 projects across the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea, totaling a more than US$2 billion commitment.
A Regional Partnership Framework for nine Pacific Island countries (Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu) provides a roadmap for both regional opportunities and country-specific action plans until the end of 2021. The World Bank’s work in Fiji and Solomon Islands is guided by individual country strategies, and the new Country Partnership Framework for Fiji 2021-2024 was approved in January 2021.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group is deploying up to US$160 billion in financial support to help countries around the world protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. Within the Pacific region, World Bank-funded health projects are already underway in Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and Samoa. Funding has also been activated in the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to support preparedness and response efforts. This support is delivering protection for health workers, increased testing capacity and essential supplies.
Economic recovery support is also being delivered throughout FY22, and the World Bank has already supported Pacific countries with economic impact research to provide critical insights into how countries are being impacted by COVID-19, and, in turn, how best they can respond.
Pacific Island countries are at the forefront of climate change and disasters, and projects across the region are helping to strengthen countries’ resilience. The Pacific Resilience Program is helping Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu to build early warning systems, strengthen disaster policies and community resilience, and is providing support for a regional disaster insurance scheme to ensure quick access to finance after a disaster.
Agriculture is vital for many Pacific Island countries, particularly as most of the region’s population live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for food security and livelihoods. In Samoa, where almost 70% of the population are employed in agriculture, the World Bank is working with farmers to improve livestock and farming practices.
The sustainable management of the environment and natural resources across the Pacific is vital to the region’s future. The Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program is helping Pacific countries coordinate sustainable management of tuna fisheries to ensure the benefits are maximized for each country’s future growth and development. The program also helps countries sustainably manage their coastal fisheries and critical habitats, and is currently active in the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu, with a regional project in the Forum Fisheries Agency.
In health, in addition to COVID-19 preparedness and response support, the World Bank is supporting Pacific countries to strengthen government-led analysis, planning, budgeting, management, and monitoring for more efficient and equitable health services.
In the Marshall Islands, the Multisectoral Early Childhood Development Project is investing in maternal and child health, as well as early childhood stimulation and preschool services, with a focus on the first 1,000 days of life. The Samoa Health System Strengthening Program aims to improve access to health care in rural areas, particularly focusing on addressing non-communicable diseases.
The Tuvalu Learning Project is supporting early education and literacy by engaging parents and communities, and by strengthening teaching at preschool, primary and secondary levels.
Transport is essential to the Pacific Islands region to connect people to markets, schools, hospitals and family, often over vast distances of ocean. The World Bank is supporting transport in Kiribati and Fiji through the Kiribati Outer Islands Transport Infrastructure Investment Project and the Fiji Transport Infrastructure Investment Project, which focus on land and sea transport, respectively.
Through a consistent approach to address climate change impacts, projects are now underway to improve the resilience of key roads, ports and other transport infrastructurein the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. A dedicated aviation program has delivered major reconstruction works to airports and runways in Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, with work continuing in each country, as well as Kiribati and Solomon Islands, helping to make air travel safer and more efficient across the Pacific.
Digital development is vital for connecting people, especially in geographically dispersed Pacific Island countries. Through the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, the Pacific is being connected to faster, cheaper and more reliable internet. Fiber-optic cables have been, or will soon be, connected in the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu. Our support is also helping to connect outer islands to broadband, strengthen the regulatory environment for the digital economy, and, in Tonga, establish the Government’s capacity to deliver digital services through the Tonga Digital Government Support Project.
Due to high population growth and high unemployment, social protection and jobs are critical issues in many Pacific countries. Faced with high secondary school drop-out rates, the Skills and Employment for Tongans Project is supporting the Tongan government to implement a cash transfer program to assist households in keeping their children in secondary school. In Solomon Islands, the Community Access and Urban Services Enhancement Project is providing skills training for 5,300 people from major towns across Solomon Islands.
In the energy sector, the World Bank is working with the government of Vanuatu to use off-grid solar home systems to expand energy access for families and businesses in many of Vanuatu’s low-income rural areas. In the Federated States of Micronesia and Marshall Islands the World Bank is working to enhance the reliability of electricity supply, improve energy efficiency, and scale up renewable energy generation, as well as helping Tuvalu to achieve 40% renewable energy usage by the end of 2020.
In Solomon Islands, this energy work includes the major Tina River Hydro Development Project, as well as investments in grid-connected solar, which which will more than double the amount of grid connected solar on the Honiara electricity network.
Last Updated: Oct 17, 2021