Samoa

Samoa: Cyclone Heta's damages to be addressed

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The World Bank approved last week grants and credits of US$ 4.47 million to the government of Samoa to finance emergency recovery efforts needed to assist with cyclone damage. Samoa was hard hit in January 2004 when Cyclone Heta passed within 80 kms of the island. The Bank'sCyclone Emergency Recovery Project for Independent State of Samoa will help the government of Samoa begin to address the significant infrastructure repair that is now needed.
Seawalls constructed after the major cyclones Ofa and Val in 1990-91 and other emergency measures helped to reduce the damages caused by Heta. Power, water, transport and other services were restored within a week after the cyclone passed near the Island.

Nonetheless, the cyclone caused major damage. Trees, crops and coastal infrastructure were destroyed or damaged. Damage added up to an estimated US$ 25 million -- beyond the financial capacity of the government. Also, the fringing reef that provides natural protection was also badly damaged.

Reducing the vulnerability of small island states to economic and physical shocks is a focus of the Bank's Pacific regional Strategy.

"Previous assistance for major cyclones in 1990-91 was effectively implemented, which reduced disastrous effects of Heta", said William Paterson, head of the World Bank team designing the project. "Nonetheless, many communities are still vulnerable or were put at higher risk by the Cyclone. Several communities have begun implementing a national risk management strategy under other recent Bank support and this Project will support improvement of resilience of the shoreline in ways that preserve the natural environment as much as possible, he added".

The Infrastructure Emergency recovery Project has three main components:

(i) Repair and improvement of seawalls, re-nourishment of beaches and restoration of the lagoon and reef systems in shoreline areas damaged or threatened by erosion.

(ii) Road rehabilitation or reconstruction, including drainage improvement in affected areas

(iii) Implementation support through specialist consulting services for the investigation, design, justification and supervision of the recovery of coastal protection measures.

By the time the project is completed in December 2006, the resilience against natural hazards of the infrastructure assets and the livelihoods of inhabitants impacted by Cyclone Heta will be recovered and improved to sustainable levels with due safeguards for the fragile coastal environment.

Contact:

Melissa Fossberg 202 458 4145
email: cgiffon@worldbank.org