World Bank commits $50 million to support Fiji’s long-term Cyclone Winston recovery

June 29, 2016

Activities targeted at natural disaster resilience and responsiveness

WASHINGTON, DC, June 30, 2016 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$50 million loan to the Government of Fiji to support the country’s response to Category 5 Cyclone Winston. The Fiji Post-Cyclone Winston Emergency Development Policy Operation supports the country’s efforts to protect the most vulnerable through cash transfers and supports the country’s broader cyclone-recovery efforts.

“The biggest impacts from Cyclone Winston have been felt in the poorest parts of Fiji, where core livelihoods such as fishing and agriculture can take several years to recover,” said Mona Sur, World Bank Acting Country Director for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands. “We have been working with the Government of Fiji to prepare a comprehensive package that will provide support to the country’s most vulnerable people and help build future resilience.”

Category 5 Cyclone Winston was the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, killing 44 people and leaving a trail of destruction across large parts of Fiji. The total damage and losses resulting from Cyclone Winston are estimated at US$1.38 billion (31 percent of GDP), including US$959 million in damage and losses to Fiji’s productive, social and infrastructure sectors. Nearly 130,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, affecting approximately 15 percent of Fiji’s total population.

Cyclone Winston had a devastating impact that will be felt in Fiji for years to come,” said Fijian Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. “We are currently in the process of rebuilding our damaged homes, schools and infrastructure and we will use this loan to help meet our commitment to make our buildings stronger and more resilient.” 

The response program includes two key pillars of activity. The first pillar supports recovery from the immediate impact of the cyclone by addressing the recovery needs identified in the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment. This includes increased resilience by ‘building back better’ so houses and public infrastructure are more able to withstand potential natural disasters in the future.

The second pillar supports the government’s comprehensive review of its immediate response to the cyclone. Cyclone Winston hit mostly rural areas of Fiji, where average incomes are lower and agriculture plays an important role. Because of this, the government provided immediate support to poor people and vulnerable groups through financial assistance for basic food and household needs. This was possible because of Fiji’s already-established social protection system. This comprehensive review will inform the way Fiji cushions vulnerable communities from the impacts of future natural disasters.

The US$50 million loan is funded through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the World Bank Group’s lending arm for middle-income countries.


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