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Governance and Public Sector Managemen

Supporting Disaster Resilience in the Pacific

  • Project Name: Pacific Disaster Resilience Program
  • Region/Country: Regional
  • Sector and Themes: Governance and Public Sector Management
  • Year: 2017-Present
  • Project Leaders: Hanna Uusimaa
Supporting Disaster Resilience in the Pacific
The program will improve the resilience of the participating countries to disasters triggered by natural hazards.

The swift Pacific Disaster Resilience Program response set a good example. It motivated other development partners to speed up their funding and help for the government in the Cyclone Gita recovery.

—Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, minister of finance and national planning, Tonga

Development challenge

ADB’s Pacific DMCs are highly exposed to different types of natural hazards. The region also experiences a disproportionately high share of global disaster impacts relative to its economic and demographic size. When disasters strike, countries in the Pacific face further challenges because their relatively small populations are dispersed over several islands that can be isolated and difficult to reach.

Most Pacific DMCs have limited resources and capacity to invest in disaster risk reduction, and to facilitate timely recovery and reconstruction after a disaster. Disasters in Pacific DMCs can erode years of economic development gains. Delays in response and recovery exacerbate the indirect economic and social costs of disasters.


ADB set up a contingent financing program to provide more timely financing for response, early recovery, and reconstruction activities for disaster events caused by all types of natural hazards. The first phase of the regional program was approved in December 2017 for Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu. The policy-based loan and policy-based grant modality was used to agree on disaster resilience-related policy actions for each participating DMC. These policy actions were targeted at strengthening the resilience of institutions and communities. Related TA monitors progress toward achieving the governments’ long-term disaster risk management goals.

The program supports policy actions in disaster risk management, and provides participating ADB Pacific developing member countries with a source of contingent financing for timely disaster response, early recovery, and reconstruction activities.

Knowledge products and services delivered

The program’s achievements include providing quick-disbursing and predictable sources of financing for disaster events and supported country-specific policy actions. It incentivized the strengthening of disaster risk management through the design of country-specific post-program partnership frameworks. In Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, the project mapped a comprehensive inventory of hazards, exposures, and assets, and analyzed the status of post-disaster public financial management capacity. It analyzed existing risk assessment data platforms using geographic information systems and recommended ways to boost regional data and information sharing for better investment decisions and planning.

Impact and results

The Pacific Disaster Resilience Program supported regional collaboration toward strengthened disaster risk management and disaster risk financing. It addressed risks pertaining to disaster events that would normally exhaust annual contingency budgets or emergency funds but may not be cost effectively covered by insurance. The program provided $6 million for Tonga Cyclone Relief in 2018 following Cyclone Gita, $3 million for Tuvalu Cyclone Relief in 2020 following tropical cyclone Tino, and $2.9 million to Samoa in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also supports a collaborative multi-country mechanism to provide contingent financing in the event of disasters triggered by natural hazards.

Lessons for Replication

The Pacific DMCs face similar challenges in disaster risk management and can benefit greatly from taking a regional approach. The Multi Hazard Disaster Risk Assessment in Tonga serves as a pilot for future similar assessments in other Pacific DMCs to inform resilient urban development and adaptation planning.

Predictable, quick-disbursing finance to fill resource gaps after major disasters facilitates faster early recovery and reconstruction.

—Hanna Uusimaa, climate change specialist, Pacific Department, ADB
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