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) and a new hub office for the South Pacific, in Suva, Fiji, opened in March 2019. 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 2021.
The World Bank’s work in Fiji and Solomon Islands is guided by individual country strategies, with a new Country Partnership Framework for Fiji currently in development.
Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic responses, increase disease surveillance, improve public health interventions, and help the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. It is deploying up to US$160 billion in financial support over the next 15 months to help countries around the world protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. Within the Pacific region, World Bank funded operations are already underway in Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and Samoa, with further COVID-19 projects across the region set to be confirmed soon.
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.
With these challenges in mind, in 2017 the World Bank launched Pacific Possible, a comprehensive study that looked 25 years ahead to quantify the impacts of potential opportunities and significant challenges for the region, focusing on: climate and disaster resilience, deep-sea mining, health and non-communicable diseases, financing for development, labor mobility, tourism and fisheries. The findings in the complete Pacific Possible report aim to provide governments and policy makers with insights into the potential impact of each focus area on the economy, employment, government income, and spending.
The World Bank is supporting rural development through a number of projects, including the Rural Development Program in Solomon Islands. The project, now in its second phase, helped hundreds of communities develop critical infrastructure, including footbridges, classrooms, health clinics and access to water and electricity.
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 people are employed in agriculture, the World Bank is working with farmers to improve livestock and farming practices. The management and sustainability of oceanic and coastal fisheries across the Pacific is vital to the region’s future. The Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program (PROP) is designed to help Pacific Island countries improve regionally-coordinated sustainable management of tuna fisheries, and ensure that the benefits are equitably shared across countries. The program also helps Pacific Island countries sustainably manage their coastal fisheries and critical habitats. PROP is currently active in the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands 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 supports areas such as reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, with a focus on the first 1,000 days of life of each child. The Samoa Health System Strengthening Program aims to improve better front-line results for non-communicable diseases across the country.
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 Pacific Island transport infrastructure in the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tuvalu and Tonga, with a dedicated aviation program rolling out support to Tuvalu, Samoa, Solomon Islands, as well as the Pacific Aviation Safety Office.
Information Communication Technologies such as Internet and phones, are vital for connecting people. The P4: Pacific Regional ICT Regulatory Development Project aims to ensure people in the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Palau and Tuvalu are being connected to significantly faster, more reliable and more affordable Internet following the impact of similar work in Tonga.
High population growth and high unemployment are now critical issues in many Pacific countries. The Skills and Employment for Tongans Project aims to improve employment pathways for Tongan youth, while 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 increase electricity access for essentials such as lighting, phone charging and refrigeration. In Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu the World Bank is also supporting efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and fostering investment in renewable energy to increase sustainability and affordability.
In Solomon Islands, this work includes the major Tina River Hydro Development Project, as well as investments in grid-connected solar, which aim to reduce Solomon Islands’ near total-reliance on diesel fuel for energy.
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2020