Philippines plans $ 500 million disaster loan from World Bank

The government of the Philippines has asked the World Bank for a loan of $ 500 million to strengthen the country’s resilience in the face of natural disasters and help it contain a coronavirus pandemic.

A World Bank document showed that the proposed loan program will be its fourth for government disaster risk management initiatives that allows for a so-called deferred withdrawal option.

Under the plan, funds are only released when a disaster strikes or a national calamity is declared to help with rehabilitation efforts, Under Secretary of Finance Mark Dennis YC Joven said in a text message on Thursday. .

The board of directors of the multilateral bank is expected to follow up on the proposal on November 16.

“The development objective is to strengthen the institutional and financial capacity of the Government of the Philippines to manage the risks associated with climate change, natural disasters and epidemics,” he said.

The program is also expected to contribute to the state’s poverty reduction efforts. About one million poor Filipinos are affected by natural disasters each year, according to World Bank estimates.

“Many of them reside in disaster-prone provinces in the east of the country and also work in the agriculture and fisheries sectors, which are highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters,” he said. -he declares. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation worse. “

The loan will support programs that institutionalize disaster recovery plans for local communities to accelerate rehabilitation, improve information collection on disaster risk management and include the impacts of climate change on the environment. investment planning.

This will ensure that local governments have rehabilitation plans in place when using the disaster fund to accelerate recovery efforts and mitigate the impact of natural disasters on communities, especially poor households. .

“Improved availability, access and use of basic data should also help affected communities to be better prepared and resilient in the face of these shocks,” he said.

While the government has “established a good track record of results,” the World Bank said there were risks to the program. A prolonged coronavirus pandemic could delay the economic rebound and further worsen fiscal space, he stressed.

The lender also warned of substantial political and governance risks despite efforts to roll out reforms aimed at improving the country’s resilience to disasters over the past decade.

“The national and local elections of May 2022 could slow down the pace of implementation of the political reforms proposed within the framework of this [loan program], “It said.

The World Bank said the country remains highly vulnerable to natural disasters, making it the ninth most vulnerable country in the world to extreme typhoons.

He said 60% of the country’s total land area and 74% of Filipinos are at risk from natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and landslides, which have been made worse by climate change.

Mr Joven said the government has taken out three similar lines of credit with the World Bank, the latest in April 2020 worth $ 500 million.

The first two Disaster Resilience Loans were issued in September 2011 and December 2015 for $ 500 million each. – Beatrice M. Laforga


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