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PRESS RELEASE February 21, 2018

Tonga: World Bank Drone-Led Damage Assessments Underway

Nuku’alofa, February 22, 2018 – Following the severe impact of Tropical Cyclone Gita, the World Bank has now begun work to support the government of Tonga, which is leading a Rapid Damage Assessment to assist with recovery and reconstruction planning in the coming months.

“Our work in mapping the damage wreaked by Cyclone Gita will be crucial to helping the government of Tonga to determine priority areas for recovery and reconstruction,” said World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, Michel Kerf. “In the immediate aftermath of recent natural disasters in the Pacific, including cyclones Winston (Fiji, 2016) and Pam (Vanuatu, 2015), the World Bank has been called upon to lead the immediate damage assessment process.”

The World Bank, together with partners including the governments of Australia and New Zealand, the Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, European Union and United Nations Development Programme, is now working alongside Tongan authorities to identify priority sectors for the rapid damage assessment, which include housing, agriculture and energy.

As part of this assessment work, a fleet of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, or drones) have been transported to Tonga with the support of the Australian government, to provide a comprehensive visual assessment of the damage caused by Cyclone Gita.

Tonga has received a payout of more than US$3.5 million from the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company (PCRIC) – the first payout made by the region’s first catastrophe risk insurance platform established in 2016. PCRIC was formed as part of the World Bank’s regional project PCRAFI: Furthering Disaster Risk Finance in the Pacific, which provides technical assistance to 14 Pacific Island countries, with financial support from Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

“Despite the tragic circumstances, it has been good to see the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company delivering much-needed relief through its disaster insurance system,” said Mr. Kerf. “This is the first payout of its kind, and is a testament to the hard work of many governments and development partners, who have worked hard over many years to create this critical support system for the Pacific Islands, home to many of the world’s most disaster at-risk countries.”

The World Bank continues to stand as a dedicated partner in resilient development in the Pacific Islands.


Benjamin Brighouse
+61 433 028 405