ADB OKs new $500-M loan to build up PH resilience vs disasters
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday (Sept. 10) approved a new $500-million loan to help the Philippines quickly respond to calamities, disease outbreaks and pandemics and build up the country’s disaster resilience.
In a statement, the ADB said the policy-based disaster resilience improvement program will support the proposed merger of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) into a Department of Disaster Resilience.
The creation of the new department was meant to “speed up the government’s disaster response and substantially reduce coordination and bureaucratic inefficiencies.”
Also, the loan will help pave the way for “reforms to make climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction an integral part of comprehensive development plans of local government units (LGUs),” the Manila-based multilateral lender said.
“It will support a pilot disaster insurance scheme, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, in several cities across the country to bolster their fiscal resilience,” said the ADB.
“It also aims to provide a predictable, timely source of financing for post-disaster response. The program will help local governments improve medium-term pandemic preparedness and introduce reforms beyond the government’s immediate COVID-19 response needs,” the ADB added.
The ADB noted that since the Philippines was in the Pacific Ring of Fire, it was “among the most disaster-prone countries in the world.”
Threats included “active volcanoes, frequent earthquakes, and an average of 20 typhoons a year causing floods and landslides.”
The ADB said almost 75 percent of Filipinos were vulnerable to multiple natural disasters, which may drive them deeper into poverty.
ADB estimates showed that natural calamities slash 0.7-1 percent off the Philippines’ annual gross domestic product—an average of P133 billion lost to typhoons on top of P43.5 billion shed from GDP due to earthquakes yearly.
It said the country has suffered from major disasters in recent years, which included Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Taal Volcano eruption in January 2020 and the ongoing pandemic.
“This new contingent disaster financing instrument will help the government manage fiscal risks posed by those shocks and lessen the economic and social impacts on people’s livelihoods and the country’s economy,” said ADB vice president Ahmed M. Saeed.
“The disaster resilience improvement program will support government policy reforms aimed at ensuring the government can quickly address the needs of vulnerable segments of the population following disasters,” said Benita Ainabe, ADB financial sector specialist for Southeast Asia.
“It will also strengthen the Philippines’ overall response to disasters and pandemics,” Ainabe added.
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