By Chino Leyco
The World Bank gave a boost to the Philippine government’s capacity building in addressing the urgent needs posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic wreaking havoc on the local economy.
The Washington-based lender announced that it approved a $500-million loan for the government’s efforts during the COVID-19 crisis as well as support its disaster risk response and recovery programs from natural disasters.
“The World Bank has expressed its solidarity with the people of the Philippines and is working closely with the authorities to support action to address the unfolding COVID-19 emergency through financial support and just-in time technical assistance,” the lender said.
According to the World Bank, the fresh loan is its third risk management development policy loan, which is part of the lender’s support to the Philippines’ resilience and capability policy reforms.
The two previous world risk management development policy loans were released in 2012 and 2015.
Achim Fock, World Bank acting country director for the Philippines, said the loan will support the government’s project aimed at strengthening the nation’s institutional framework for disaster risk management.
The national government is currently in the process of creating a new department for Disaster Risk and Resilience.
“The World Bank is committed to supporting efforts to strengthen the Philippines’ capacity to prepare for and respond to natural disasters as well as health and economic shocks like COVID-19,” Fock said.
“Natural disasters and pandemics disproportionately hurt poor families and communities. Enhancing risk management and the capacity to address these challenges can help ensure that the Philippines can sustain progress in poverty reduction,” he added.
The World Bank expects the Philippines will use the funds to create a unified disaster rehabilitation and recovery planning framework for the national government and local government units.
The financing should also aid the country’s promotion of integrated hazard and risk analysis in physical planning, and support policy development.
The government should likewise develop multi-year investment plans for seismic risk reduction and retrofit important government buildings as well as implement an emergency cash transfer program during shocks.