WASHINGTON, December 10, 2021 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved two new projects totaling US$53 million to boost the climate and disaster resilience of Tongan schools, roads, and ports.
The US$38m (approximately TOP 87 million) Tonga Climate Resilient Transport Project II is the second major commitment to Tonga’s transport sector in the past five years. Earlier support has already seen the rehabilitation of the Nafanua seaport on Tonga’s island of ‘Eua, with road works on 'Eua and Vava'u, and rehabilitation works at the Ha'apai Salote Pilolevu Airport expected to begin in 2022. This second phase will further improve Tonga’s transport sector for safer and more reliable travel by road, sea and air; and reduce potential damages and costs to transport infrastructure caused by future climate-related emergencies.
The project will finance rehabilitation and/or upgrading of up to 45km of roads across Tongatapu, Vava’u, Ha’apai, and ‘Eua; enhancement of the ‘Eua and Ha’apai ports; and improvement of the safety and resilience of airport infrastructure at Tongatapu, Vava'u, Ha’apai, ‘Eua, Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu. The support will also strengthen Tonga’s capacity to respond faster, and more effectively, to future disasters and emergencies.
In addition, the US$15m (approximately TOP 34 million) World Bank-funded Tonga Safe and Resilient Schools Project builds on work undertaken through the World Bank’s Pacific Resilience Program to support work to improve the resilience of Tongan schools. In the past decade, Tonga has been hard hit by Tropical Cyclones Harold (2020), Gita (2018) and Ian (2014), with Gita alone either damaging or destroying 109 of Tonga’s 150 schools, affecting approximately 23,000 students and resulting in damages of approximately TOP 356m (US$164m); close to 38 percent of Tonga’s Gross Domestic Product.
The Safe and Resilient Schools Project aims to also enhance the safety and resilience of selected schools throughout Tonga, to ensure that these buildings better withstand the impacts of future disasters and provide safe and secure classrooms for students. Works will include new and improved classrooms; school halls, dormitories, and teachers’ housing; as well as critical Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities like toilets, handwashing facilities and clean drinking water. The new project also aims to improve the quality of education in Tonga by developing an Education Management Information System (EMIS) to better inform education management and policy reforms; enhance the quality of teaching; and review and improve Tonga’s school curricula and assessment processes.
“Tonga is one of the most at-risk countries in the world to climate change and natural disasters, with the remoteness and size of its islands making it even more vulnerable to multiple social and economic shocks,” said Stephen Ndegwa, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.
“Through these two projects – both of which are significant in scope – we are reiterating our long-term commitment to supporting Tonga’s efforts to build its resilience and ensure it can respond better and with confidence to drive effective recovery from the impacts of future natural disasters.”
Both projects are funded through grants from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries.
The World Bank works in partnership with 12 countries across the Pacific, supporting 87 projects totaling US$2.18 billion in commitments in sectors including agriculture, aviation and transport, climate resilience and adaptation, economic policy, education and employment, energy, fisheries, health, macroeconomic management, rural development, social protection, telecommunications and tourism.