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World Bank offers $500-M loan to PH

Fund for reconstruction of typhoon-hit areas

The World Bank is preparing a $500-million emergency loan to help the government’s reconstruction efforts in areas affected by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” earlier this month.

This is the latest in the flood of foreign aid coming into the Philippines in the last 10 days following the devastation of the strongest typhoon to ever hit land tore through parts of Visayas on Nov. 8.

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The emergency loan from the World Bank matches a similar financing package announced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), another multilateral lender, last week.

“In the aftermath of the typhoon, we have seen courageous efforts by the people of the Philippines to get back on their feet,” World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said in a statement. “We are committed to supporting the government in its effort to recover and rebuild, and to help Filipinos strengthen their resilience against increasingly frequent extreme weather events.”

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On top of the half-a-billion-dollar loan, which is still being finalized, the bank said it was also ready to provide other forms of support, including a conditional cash transfer program that provides funds to poor families.

Its resources can also be directed to providing temporary shelters and to helping with debris clean-up, providing short-term jobs to poor families.

The lender said it was discussing with various government agencies on other ways it could help in reconstruction efforts. These departments and agencies include the departments of finance, social welfare and development and science and technology, as well as the Office of Civil Defense and the National Economic and Development Authority.

The bank said it would send a technical team this week to help the government assess the damage and gather information for a comprehensive reconstruction plan.

“Given the scale of this disaster, the country will need a long-term reconstruction plan. We can bring lessons learned from our work in reconstruction after disasters hit Aceh, Haiti and other areas that might be helpful in the Philippines,” World Bank vice president for East Asia Pacific Axel von Trotsenburg said.

“Remote sensing images are being obtained for use by the assessment team in geomapping activities to help determine the cost of the destruction,” he said.

Trotsenburg said the main focus of the reconstruction plan would be to provide technical assistance on disaster-resistant design options for housing, health facilities, schools and public markets that can withstand wind speeds of 250 to 280 kilometer an hour. These new structures should also be resistant to flood damage, he said.

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Meanwhile, International Finance Corp. (IFC), the World Bank’s private investment arm, said it was also working with its client banks and financial institutions in the typhoon-affected areas to ensure risk share facilities and advisory services are extended to private sector banks in order to help small-and-medium enterprises recover.

“IFC is in discussions with international banks, rural banks and microfinance institutions to develop specific programs to help the private sector recover from the devastation,” IFC resident representative Jesse Ang said.

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TAGS: Business, emergency loan, foreign aid, Philippines, reconstruction, Typhoon Yolanda, World Bank
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