World Bank to help Samoa rebuild

The World Bank today announced plans to provide an extra US$20 million to Samoa to accelerate economic recovery by helping rebuild roads and bridges damaged by Cyclone Evan and by helping to provide planting material, tools and livestock to thousands of farmers and their families that lost crops.

Cyclone Evan hit the remote Pacific Island nation of Samoa in December 2012, killing five people, destroying over 600 homes, and displacing some 4,000 people. The cyclone damaged transportation infrastructure and energy plants, as well as Samoa’s main source of foreign exchange - tourism facilities. Agriculture also took a major hit, with 7,000 households - some 30,000 people - suffering extensive crop damage and many small farmers set to lose half their yearly income.

In January, a Government assessment was conducted with assistance from the World Bank and other development partners, with financing from the European Union through the Natural Risk Reduction Programme managed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. This assessment estimated that total losses from the cyclone are likely to top US$200 million, or almost one third of Samoa’s annual economic output.

"The cyclone serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of small island states to natural disasters," said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands. "Our financial support will boost the economy, rebuild critical infrastructure, and improve the lives of people who suffered the most, including thousands of small farmers and their families who in an instant saw their livelihoods disappear."

"Natural disasters such as Cyclone Evan and the 2009 tsunami highlight the vulnerability to external shocks of even well performing small island countries such as Samoa," said Samoan Finance Minister the Hon. Faumuina Tiatia Liuga. "We welcome this support which will boost the Government’s reconstruction program, help the economy rebound and accelerate our efforts to rebuild the lives of the people hit hardest."

Natural disasters take a major toll on Pacific Island countries. World Bank research has estimated the average annual cost to small island states from natural disasters is equivalent to almost 2% of GDP.

The additional US$20 million for Samoa will come from the World Bank’s Crisis Response Window, and will supplement US$30 million in financing already earmarked for Samoa for the three year period from July 2011 to June 2014. Funding is expected to be provided to the Government as half grants and half zero interest rate concessional credits.

World Bank Board approval for specific investments will be sought under streamlined emergency response procedures that allow the Bank to respond quickly to meet reconstruction needs following natural disasters.