More Pacific countries to qualify for disaster insurance

MORE Pacific countries will now able to get immediate cash injections after major disasters under the latest developments under a Pacific disaster risk insurance facility.

The Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company which was actually established in 2007 as a pilot initiative currently covers Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands and the Marshall Islands.

Donor funding for the initiative comes from the UK, the US, and Germany and Japan.

Already two of the countries have received payouts from the initiative: Tonga, ten days after Cyclone Ian in 2014; and Vanuatu seven days after Pam in 2015, worth a combined total of US$3.2 million.

The World Bank’s Samantha Cook said the latest phase of the US$29.73 million project launched at the end of last month saw Pacific countries taking on more responsibility for their own disaster risk insurance.

“One of the uses of getting this cash is to be able to help the governments to avoid reallocating budgets away from their key development projects,” she said.

“So this basically provides a financial buffer to allow them to respond in the immediate aftermath before they have to do that budget reallocation.”

Cook said Fiji which was hard hit by Cyclone Winston last year and the Federated States of Micronesia which was struck by Typhoon Maysak the year before had already expressed an interest in signing on.

Apart from direct finance the initiative also involves technical support from the World Bank to Pacific governments in the areas of Public Financial Management, Contingency Planning and developing a Disaster Risk Financing strategy.