Nearly a year ago, Tropical Cyclone Evan plowed through the South Pacific, becoming the worst storm to hit the island nations of Samoa and Fiji in 20 years. In Samoa, infrastructure and the agricultural sector took a direct hit and the recovery process has lasted for much of 2013. In its wake, in Samoa, Evan claimed 14 lives, displaced approximately 7,500 people, and caused over $200 million USD in damage.
Yet in Evan’s aftermath, Samoa is implementing a broad array of programming designed to improve its disaster resilience and its ability to withstand the increasing risks posed by climate change.
The US Agency for International Development immediately made $150,000 USD available for post-landfall response and recovery operations in December 2012. In February 2013, USAID followed up with a pilot Coastal Community Adaptation Project in to improve climate resilience in 5 Samoan villages–part of a broader Agency climate change adoption initiative for 12 Pacific Island nations. The project focused extensively at the local level–emphasizing small-scale enhancements and retrofits to local infrastructure, community outreach and education, as well as the integration of climate change risk into local planning processes.
In tandem, the World Bank is coordinating with Samoa on programming to build national resilience in the island nation’s transportation network as well as its agricultural sector. In October 2013, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $25 million USD package targeted for rebuilding roads and bridges damaged by Evan, as well as building capacities in the farming and fishing sectors. The $20M Enhanced Road project will not only repair what Evan destroyed, but will also integrate retrofit and design measures to help protect this infrastructure from future extreme weather and climate-related events. The $5M Agriculture and Fisheries Cyclone Response Project will target 7,000 subsistence farmers and aquaculturalists who were impacted and, in many cases, lost their livelihoods–integrating both repair and recovery, as well as preparation for future disasters into the program.
Going forward, Samoa’s implementation of USAID and World Bank-funded programming will be an important dimension to building resilience to the risks posed by climate change and extreme disasters–a risk that will not be diminishing in the years and decades ahead.
[Via: AccuWeather/ReliefAnalysis.com, USAID, World Bank]