World Bank to help PH strengthen climate preparedness

The World Bank said its Board of Executive Directors approved on Friday a new line of credit to help the Philippines strengthen climate preparedness in schools, health facilities, and communities. In a statement, the World Bank said the Philippines Disaster Risk Management and Climate Development Policy Loan with a Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option set aside USD500 million that the government can quickly draw upon when major natural disasters or health crises hit. The funds can be disbursed when the Philippines' President declares a state of calamity in response to a natural disaster or public health emergency. The World Bank said the full amount of the financial support will be available for three years. The financial support also has a revolving feature, and the three-year drawdown period may be renewed up to four times, for a total maximum period of 15 years. "The real benefit of this support is its ability to rapidly deliver crucial services - such as healthcare, shelter, and food - to those most impacted by disasters or climate events," said Ndiame Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. "It's about making sure the people who have the least are taken care of and can bounce back immediately after these disaster events," he added. According to the World Bank, at least 74 percent of Filipinos are vulnerable to typhoons, landslides, floods, storm surges, droughts, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. It added that these natural disasters regularly damage infrastructure, disrupt the delivery of essential education and health services, and destroy homes and personal belongings, making life harder for many families and pushing some into poverty. Approximately 78 percent of public schools and 96 percent of students in the Philippines are exposed and vulnerable to multiple hazards. Between 2021 and 2023, around 4,000 schools were damaged due to various disasters, resulting in the disruption of learning continuity for two million children. Diop said World Bank's support will ensure the government has the resources to restore or rebuild damaged schools following a disaster, allowing children to continue their education without significant interruptions. The financing also aims to help the Philippines prepare for disasters in advance to mitigate their impact. The reforms implemented as a part of this financing will help make schools more disaster-proof, help communities plan safer spaces and green areas, and strengthen health facilities to withstand future disasters and health emergencies. 'Extreme climate events frequently cause significant damage to infrastructure, communities, and people's livelihoods,' said Lesley Cordero, senior disaster risk management specialist at the World Bank. "The reforms this financial instrument supports are key in making sure places where people learn, live, and take care of their health are built with climate and disaster challenges in mind. This way, services will not be interrupted when natural disasters strike, and this is partic ularly important for those who are already vulnerable," added Cordero. Source: Philippines News Agency