NUKU’ALOFA, May 1, 2020 – The Government of Tonga can now access an additional US $4.5million (approx. TOP $10.4million) from its disaster insurance cover to support response and recovery efforts following the impact of Category five Tropical Cyclone Harold.
This additional assistance is an insurance payout from the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company (PCRIC) that was established under the World Bank’s Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI).
Tonga is one of the Pacific Island countries that have purchased catastrophe risk insurance through this initiative with its annual insurance premiums funded by the Pacific Resilience Program in Tonga. The PCRIC provides a regional catastrophe insurance platform that offers governments insurance cover against climate and seismic hazards, currently tropical cyclones and earthquake/tsunamis. Tonga has had insurance cover since January 2013 with earlier insurance payouts made following Tropical Cyclone Ian in 2014 and Tropical Cyclone Gita in 2018.
These funds will provide the government with much needed rapid-response financing to support disaster-relief efforts at a crucial time with a number of Pacific governments grappling with the twin challenges of Tropical Cyclone Harold and protecting citizens from COVID-19.
“The Government of Tonga, with support from the World Bank through its Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI) initiative, was able to purchase catastrophe risk insurance since 2013 that Tonga can now, very quickly, access to get urgently needed funds to further boost our disaster response efforts on the ground following the recent Tropical Cyclone Harold,” said Tonga’s Minister of Finance, the Hon. Tevita Lavemaau. “This enables us to respond even quicker to assist our people who were worst affected by the cyclone.”
Tropical Cyclone Harold reached its peak intensity as a Category 5 cyclone with its devastating impact felt by thousands as it moved through the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga. The cyclone passed within 100 kilometers of Tongatapu, Tonga’s main island, with significant storm surges coinciding with king tides, causing widespread damage to coastal areas and communities.
“We are pleased to be working very closely with the Government of Tonga in supporting its disaster response and recovery initiatives,” said Michel Kerf, Country Director for the World Bank in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “Thanks to the PCRAFI initiative, countries have immediate access to critical funding when it is urgently needed for disaster response and recovery after a triggering event, like Tropical Cyclone Harold.”
The World Bank remains committed to ongoing efforts to support the Government of Tonga and other Pacific Island Countries on strengthening their risk management and financial preparedness for disasters.
The World Bank works in partnership with 12 countries across the Pacific, supporting 84 projects totaling US$1.8 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, telecommunications and tourism.