New World Bank Grant to Help Marshall Islands Be More Resilient to Climate Change

May 9, 2017

WASHINGTON D.C., May 9, 2017 –The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today grant financing for a project that is expected to help communities in the Marshall Islands – already vulnerable to recurring drought and flooding – prepare better for the impact of climate change.

The Pacific Resilience Project II will receive a US$19.6 million grant for the Marshall Islands and a US$4 million grant for the Pacific Community (SPC) to support this important initiative.

“Living in the Marshall Islands we know all too well about climate change and its impacts,” said The Honorable Mattlan Zackhras, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. “This project is tailored to the specific challenges our country faces, and complement the activities already underway to prepare us for the future. We look forward to working with the World Bank and the SPC on this project.

The Marshall Islands are exposed to a variety of natural hazards, including prolonged and repeated droughts, flooding from king tides and storms, and, to a lesser extent, typhoons, which model estimates say cost the economy some US$3 million per year on average. Recently, a state of emergency was declared for the northern islands, which suffer from drought and require assistance from the national government.

The vast majority of residents live along the coastline, which is vulnerable to coastal erosion, storm surges, and sea level rise. Due to high population density and concentration of public infrastructure, the islands of Ebeye and Majuro – home to 74 percent of the total population – are particularly at risk, as mapped in the coastal vulnerability assessment financed by the Small Island States Resilience Initiative grant from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), used to inform the design of the project.

The Pacific Resilience Project II is the second phase of a series of projects under the Pacific Resilience Program (PREP). A partnership which currently includes Tonga, Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the World Bank, PREP shares expertise on disaster risk management and increases economies of scale. This second phase provides a broad range of climate resilient initiatives and investments, including nationally implemented activities by the government of the Marshall Islands and regionally implemented activities through the Pacific Community (SPC).

“The Pacific Community is delighted with the opportunity presented to the Republic of the Marshall Islands with PREP Phase II, and looks forward to working with government counterparts on strengthening disaster and climate resilient development in the country and sharing this knowledge and experience with the region,” said Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Director-General of the Pacific Community.

The project will:

  • Improve disaster preparedness and strengthen early warning systems, especially in the outer islands where reaching communities during an emergency is still a challenge.
  • Invest in coastal adaptation and shoreline protection, starting in Ebeye where the majority of the population is exposed to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.  
  • Improve the country’s post-disaster response, by providing the ability to access funds that will enable immediate response and to conduct Post Disaster Needs Assessments, if required.

“The Pacific region is highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. We are working with governments to act now in order to reduce the future burden and challenges that Pacific Islanders will face,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “The Pacific Resilience project highlights our continued efforts to address climate change and strong partnership with participating countries and regional institutions.”

The Pacific Resilience Project II is a US$48.6 million investment, with the grants provided from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for countries most in need.




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