More resilient school buildings for 9,000 Tongan students

Thousands of students in Tonga will be safer from natural disasters thanks to upgraded school buildings, supported by an additional US$14.95 million project approved this week by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.

The funding will extend the Pacific Resilience Program’s support to the government of Tonga in delivering early warning systems, resilient investments, and financial protection against natural disasters.

Further, five more years of disaster risk financing insurance premiums will be paid for under the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Finance Initiative (PCRAFI) disaster risk finance and insurance program, which rapidly paid out US$3.5 million in emergency funds to the government of Tonga, following severe Tropical Cyclone Gita.

“Additional funds for Tonga under the regional Pacific Resilience Program will deliver safer school buildings that will better withstand natural disaster impacts,” said Lasse Melgaard, Resident Representative for the South Pacific. “Tonga’s continued participation in the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Finance Initiative for at least five more years will contribute to ensuring fast financial relief in times of disaster.”

The new funding will enable the repair and reconstruction of buildings at 30 schools impacted by Gita, which struck Tonga in February 2018. New construction work will ensure approximately 9,000 students – almost 40 percent of all Tongan students – will be taught in buildings more resilient to cyclones and earthquakes, and with upgrades for disability access.

The Program was initially approved in June 2015 as a series of projects to strengthen Pacific Island countries’ resilience to natural disasters and climate change. A partnership between Tonga, Samoa, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the World Bank, the program uses a regional approach to disaster risk management to share expertise and increase economies of scale.

Supplemental funds for the Tonga component of the Pacific Resilience Program will be funded through a US$14.95 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries. The Australian government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing an additional AU$3 million for the project.


Photo ABC News: Liam Fox. Caption: Men clean up a roof blown off Nuku'alofa's Queen Salote College by Cyclone Gita.