WASHINGTON, September 9, 2014 – A pristine beach and warm paradise come to mind when there is mention of tropical islands such as the Seychelles or Mauritius, located in the southwest Indian Ocean. However, trouble can occur rapidly due to the region’s extreme vulnerability to cyclones, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis. In 2013, the impact of 15 tropical disturbances caused more than $250 million worth of damage to the Union of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zanzibar collectively. In fact, the region’s largest island, Madagascar, remains one of the most economically and geographically impacted countries in the world from natural disasters.
To address the resulting impacts to livelihoods and disaster-related economic losses, innovative solutions to increase financial resilience and address exposure to natural disasters are being supported by the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Management Group through a regional risk assessment and financing initiative. This initiative aims to be a game changer for participating southwest Indian Ocean island states. It includes input from across the Bank’s new global practices in order to ensure the technical assistance being offered is of the highest standard.
“Working together to promote a safe environment for the citizens of these five island states has never been more critical,” said Mr. Jean Razafindravonona, Minister of Finance and Budget for Madagascar. “In light of climate change and the number of disasters that may increase in future years, planning for the future is essential to reduce the potential damage resulting from these events.”