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Gov’t seeks $500-million climate risk loan from WB

RESIDENTS are seen fleeing their homes due to floods, Oct. 23, 2020. The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT is eyeing a $500-million loan from the World Bank (WB) to strengthen its resilience against climate-related disasters.

The Philippines Disaster Risk Management and Climate Development policy loan, which includes an option for a catastrophe deferred drawdown, is expected to be approved by the World Bank board on Sept. 21.

In a document uploaded on its website, the World Bank said the loan aims to strengthen the capacity of the Philippine government in managing disaster and climate risks in the education and health sectors.

The Philippines ranked first globally for having the highest disaster risks, according to the World Risk Index 2022.

Disasters have killed over 10,000 people, affected around 103 million, and caused as much as P409 million in economic losses for the Philippines between 2010 and 2019, the multilateral lender said.

The World Bank said the policy loan focuses specifically on the education and health sectors due to “their high exposure and vulnerability to disasters, climate change, and public health emergencies, and their essential role in human capital accumulation, economic growth, and poverty reduction.”

The loan will fund projects aimed at improving the resilience of school infrastructure, protect learners against natural hazards, enhance emergency preparedness, and promote learning continuity.

One of the targets is to implement disaster and climate contingency plans for 80% of schools in the Greater Manila Area.

It also aims to build disaster and climate-resilient school infrastructure, noting that around 21,018 schools were destroyed by disasters over the last six years.

The World Bank said the loan will also fund projects strengthening health-related infrastructure.

“The target is the development of a multi-year investment plan by the Health department that integrates disaster, climate, and public health emergency resilience measures in the health facilities with the annual budget submitted to the Department of Budget and Management for endorsement to Congress (2024 to 2026),” it said.

It also seeks to create a more streamlined reporting mechanism for National Government agencies and local government units, with event-based reporting and response initiation reduced from seven days to two days.

“These reforms are vital in ensuring that the country is able to maintain continuity in critical sectors,” it added.

The World Bank was the country’s third-largest source of official development assistance (ODA) as of 2021. World Bank loans and grants represented 24% of total ODA or $7.66 billion, data from the National Economic and Development Authority showed.

This year, the National Government expects to obtain around $19.1 billion worth of ODA — $9.2 billion worth of loans from multilateral development partners and  $9.8 billion in loans from bilateral lenders. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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