21st December, 2020 Local contractors in Tonga who were involved in the construction aspects of the Pacific Resilience Program (PREP) have been equipped with enhanced capacity on environmental, health and safety (EHS) safeguard policies and resilience standards through the application of the ‘Build Back Better’ principles.
Recognising the critical role that local contractors play in implementing the school reconstruction and rebuilding following Tropical Cyclone Gita, the Bank Executed Technical Assistance through the World Bank Safeguards Team provided capacity building to help them understand and apply the relevant EHS safeguards and help them to adhere to the requirements of the World Bank prior to the construction. These has benefited PREP Stakeholders and the locals.
“Through the capacity building provided, local contractors are now familiar with the procurement process for bidding from international development partners like the World Bank and managing contracts under international standards contractors.” said Mr. Leveni ‘Aho, Implementation Support Specialist, PREP Tonga.
“Here in the islands, we don’t normally pay attention to Safeguard approaches as we look at these as unnecessary cost. However, this was basically an eye-opener to advocate and educate these small-time contractors to understand how international partners’ process of supporting and helping an event,” he added.
Although this training is a part of the project, the skills and knowledge acquired through this process will go a long way in contributing to resilient development in Tonga.
Mr. ‘Aho said that, “while the training is part of the reconstruction and rebuilding process, it is also enabling the small-time contractors to understand how international and regional organizations put projects together and how they could contribute to the resilient investment in the country. And you know, it’s actually for all our benefit.”
Additionally, local contractors are also building their capacities in relation to the application of the “Build Back Better” (BBB) standards. This was demonstrated through the schools that have undergone completed reconstruction which applies the BBB principles in their reconstruction.
“The classrooms were built according to the expected resilience standards with very high quality,” said ‘Isikeli Oko, Head of Quality Assurance, Ministry of Education and Training (MOET).
According to the United Nations, “*BBB is the use of the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phases after a disaster to increase the resilience of nations and communities through integrating disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of physical infrastructure and societal systems, and into the revitalization of livelihoods, economies, and the environment.”*
“This is all about safety and protecting our people and having a right environment to work with because if we don’t do that now, we might end up constructing the same types of buildings with same mistakes from the past.” Mr. ‘Aho expressed.
“We try to build back better now. If we keep improving, then that’s what we call ‘resilient’. And during events of tropical cyclones, we are in a much better position to face it as we can stay in our small resilient houses,” he further commented.
Mr. ‘Aho highlighted that the capacity building part in the project implementation is working well for their communities because it is not the major contractors but small-time contractors whose capacity are built through this process.
The local contractors are playing critical role in the implementation of the projects relating to the strengthening early warning and preparedness and risk reduction and resilient development components under the PREP.
For further information contact:
‘Elina Kaufusi Bloomfield, t: (676) 23-160, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
PREP Project Management Unit (PMU)
Level 4, OG Sanft Building, MEIDECC