WASHINGTON, May 9, 2019—Thousands of communities across the North Pacific will benefit from significant upgrades to maritime infrastructure and improved connectivity following approval today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors of two grants for US$38.5 million and US$33.1 million for the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Marshall Islands, respectively.
The Federated States of Micronesia Maritime Investment Project will include construction and rehabilitation of maritime infrastructure across the country, including upgrades or repairs to drainage, terminal structures, berthing and apron facilities at Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap ports to strengthen safety and security of maritime transport and improve the reliability of connections between the four states and outer islands.
In neighboring Marshall Islands, the Marshall Islands Maritime Investment Project will include the upgrade or repair of quays and other structures, and improved safety and port operations at Delap, Uliga, Ebeye, and outer island docks to strengthen maritime transport across the Marshall Islands and improve the reliability of connections between the capital, Majuro and outer islands.
Both countries are heavily dependent on marine resources for international, inter-state and inter-island trade. However, many ports lack suitable infrastructure, making travel in bad weather or at night particularly dangerous. This increases the vulnerability of outer island communities, most of whom depend on maritime transport to access education, markets and health services. Climate change is also a significant threat to maritime operations, with sea-level rise accelerating the rate of coastal erosion and exacerbating the deterioration of key port infrastructure.
The two projects, the World Bank’s first transport infrastructure investments in the North Pacific, will improve both countries’ resilience to natural disasters and climate change, and will strengthen communities’ access to food, water, fuel and emergency response services. The two projects will also provide technical assistance for port planning and management to help government and state maritime authorities improve safety, efficiency and emergency response systems.
“Safe and reliable transportation is essential to ensuring that island communities across FSM can get to their place of work or study and access vital health services,” said Sihna Lawrence, Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Federated States of Micronesia. “Guided by our Infrastructure Development Plan, we look forward to working with the World Bank to improve our maritime transport and develop stronger connectivity across the archipelago.”
“Climate change is becoming an increasing threat to our maritime infrastructure and operations across Marshall Islands,” said Hon. Thomas Heine, Minister of Transport and Communications, Republic of Marshall Islands. “We are delighted to be working with the World Bank to build resilient structures and improved emergency response systems to support our vital maritime industries and protect the livelihoods of our people.”
“For dispersed island nations across the North Pacific, which are heavily reliant on the ocean for commerce, trade and access to services, safe and reliable transport is absolutely essential,” said Michel Kerf, Country Director for the Pacific Islands. “We are proud to help strengthen the resilience of the North Pacific’s maritime infrastructure to climate change and natural disasters and improve maritime connectivity across the region.”
The grant for the Federated States of Micronesia will be jointly implemented by the country’s Department of Finance and Administration, Department of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure and Department of Justice. The grant for Marshall Islands will be jointly implemented by the country’s Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Justice. Both projects are funded through the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries.