World Bank provides $8 million to support Tonga’s recovery from volcano and tsunami
The World Bank has disbursed initial emergency funding of $8 million to support the response and recovery of the Kingdom of Tonga following the devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami on January 15.
The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai submarine volcano, located about 65 kilometers north of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, erupted on January 15, creating an ash plume of at least 30 kilometers high and 260 kilometers wide. This once-in-a-1000-year event triggered a series of tsunami waves affecting islands across the country, with wave impacts in Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all over the west coast of the American continent (from Alaska to Chile). ). At least three deaths have so far been confirmed in Tonga.
These funds will provide resources that the government can use to restore basic services and help the most affected Tongan families. The support, requested by the Tongan government, is through the second Tonga Resilience Development Policy Operation with a disaster deferred withdrawal option that allows for the urgent disbursement of funds in the event of a catastrophic event. It is financed by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.
“While a full picture of the damage caused by this major disaster requires further assessment, we know the damage is significant. Tongans have extraordinary strength and resilience,” said World Bank Country Director Stephen Ndegwa. for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “The World Bank stands with Tongans during this difficult time, as we will continue to do in the months and years to come.”
Two World Bank-funded projects are also being deployed to support Tonga’s recovery. These include the Tonga Climate Resilient Transport Project and the Pacific Resilience Program, both of which aim to build resilience in Tonga’s key infrastructure, including government buildings and schools, as well as air and seaports.
As part of the Pacific Resilience program, emergency operations centers have been built in Ha’apai and Vava’u to assist in early warning and response to natural disasters, including volcanic activity and tsunamis. These centers were activated on January 14 and continued to collect information and provide recovery assistance to government agencies following the loss of communication due to the eruption. The resilience program also funded high-frequency radios, emergency response supplies, and training in warning systems used in the immediate response to the eruption.
The World Bank stands ready to support damage assessments to help the government assess the nature and extent of damage and reconstruction and recovery needs.
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