The World Bank is rapidly increasing its assistance in the Pacific Islands region with a significant increase in funds available through the International Development Association (IDA). Last year a new hub office for the South Pacific was established in Suva, Fiji, and its presence is already translating into stronger partner commitments and community-level impact.

Regional Partnership Framework for nine Pacific Island countries (Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu) provides a roadmap for both regional opportunities and country-specific action plans until 2021. The World Bank’s work in Fiji and Solomon Islands is guided by individual country strategies, with a new Country Partnership Framework for Fiji currently being prepared.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group is deploying up to US$160 billion in financial support to help countries around the world protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.

Within the Pacific region, World Bank-funded health projects are already underway in Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall IslandsPapua New Guinea and Samoa. Funding has also been activated in the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to support preparedness and response efforts. This support is delivering protection for health workers, increased testing capacity and essential supplies.

Economic recovery support is also being delivered throughout FY21, and the World Bank has already supported Pacific countries with economic impact research to provide critical insights into how countries are being impacted by COVID-19, and, in turn, how best they can respond.

The World Bank Group’s engagement with Pacific Island countries reflects the influence of the region’s economic geography on their development trajectories, with unique challenges arising from remoteness.

With these challenges in mind, in 2017 the World Bank launched Pacific Possible, a comprehensive study that looked 25 years ahead to quantify the impacts of potential opportunities and significant challenges for the region, focusing on: climate and disaster resiliencedeep-sea mininghealth and non-communicable diseasesfinancing for developmentlabor mobilitytourism and fisheries. The findings in the complete Pacific Possible report aim to provide governments and policy makers with insights into the potential impact of each focus area on the economy, employment, government income, and spending.

Focus sectors

The World Bank is supporting rural development through a number of projects, including the Rural Development Program in Solomon Islands. The project, now in its second phase, helped hundreds of communities develop critical infrastructure, including footbridges, classrooms, health clinics and access to water and electricity.

Agriculture is vital for many Pacific Island countries, particularly as most of the region’s population live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for food security and livelihoods. In Samoa, where almost 70% of the population are employed in agriculture, the World Bank is working with farmers to improve livestock and farming practices.

The management and sustainability of oceanic and coastal fisheries across the Pacific is vital to the region’s future. The Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program is helping Pacific countries coordinate sustainable management of tuna fisheries to ensure the benefits are maximized for each country’s future growth and development. The program also helps countries sustainably manage their coastal fisheries and critical habitats, and is currently active in the Federated States of MicronesiaKiribatiMarshall IslandsSolomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu, with a regional project in the Forum Fisheries Agency.

In health, in addition to COVID-19 preparedness and response support, the World Bank is supporting Pacific countries to strengthen government-led analysis, planning, budgeting, management, and monitoring for more efficient and equitable health services.

In the Marshall Islands, the Multisectoral Early Childhood Development Project is investing in maternal and child health, as well as early childhood stimulation and preschool services, with a focus on the first 1,000 days of life. The Samoa Health System Strengthening Program aims to improve access to health care in rural areas, particularly focusing on addressing non-communicable diseases.

Transport is essential to the Pacific Islands region to connect people to markets, schools, hospitals and family, often over vast distances of ocean. The World Bank is supporting transport in Kiribati and Fiji through the Kiribati Outer Islands Transport Infrastructure Investment Project and the Fiji Transport Infrastructure Investment Project, which focus on land and sea transport, respectively.

Through a consistent approach to address climate change impacts, projects are now underway to improve the resilience of key Pacific Island transport infrastructure in the Federated States of MicronesiaMarshall IslandsSamoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, while a dedicated aviation program has delivered major reconstruction works to airports and runways in Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, with work continuing in each country, as well as Kiribati and Solomon Islands, helping to make air travel safer and more efficient across the Pacific.

Information Communication Technologies such as Internet and phones, are vital for connecting people. The P4: Pacific Regional ICT Regulatory Development Project aims to ensure people in the Federated States of MicronesiaFijiKiribatiSamoaPalau and Tuvalu are being connected to significantly faster, more reliable and more affordable Internet following the impact of similar work in Tonga.

High population growth and high unemployment are now critical issues in many Pacific countries. The Skills and Employment for Tongans Project aims to improve employment pathways for Tongan youth, while in Solomon Islands, the Community Access and Urban Services Enhancement Project is providing skills training for 5,300 people from major towns across Solomon Islands.

In the energy sector, the World Bank is working with the government of Vanuatu to increase electricity access for essentials such as lighting, phone charging and refrigeration. In the Federated States of MicronesiaMarshall Islands, and Tuvalu the World Bank is also supporting efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and fostering investment in renewable energy to increase sustainability and affordability.

In Solomon Islands, this work includes the major Tina River Hydro Development Project, as well as investments in grid-connected solar, which aim to reduce Solomon Islands’ near total-reliance on diesel fuel for energy.

Last Updated: Oct 06, 2020