World Bank hikes Pacific aid

World Bank Vice President Victoria Kwakwa, right, speaks with RMI President Hilda Heine during her visit to Majuro recently.
World Bank Vice President Victoria Kwakwa, right, speaks with RMI President Hilda Heine during her visit to Majuro recently.

The World Bank’s Regional Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific, Victoria Kwakwa, wrapped up her first visit to the RMI and Federated States of Micronesia earlier this month, underscoring the growing global recognition of the need for strong support to small island developing states.

During the regional visit, Kwakwa met with both RMI President Hilda Heine and FSM President Peter Christian, as well as ministers and secretaries, development partners, non-governmental organizations and project teams to discuss implementation and progress of World Bank-funded projects in each country.

“Our partnerships with the RMI and the FSM are relatively new, yet they are deepening rapidly,” said Kwakwa. “This is a clear recognition of the scale of the challenges faced by small island states, and our determination to help both countries build resilience, support economic growth, and develop critical human capital.”

In RMI, World Bank assistance from 2017 to 2020 has quadrupled to $63 million. In FSM, the current 2017-2020 allocation has grown to $65 million, also representing a fourfold increase.

“While helping address vulnerability to climate change, economic and health shocks is a key driver of our investment in FSM and RMI, the increase is also driven by a strong alignment of interests in terms of their development agendas and the World Bank’s global priorities,” said Ms. Kwakwa.

In RMI, one example of this alignment is between the World Bank’s recently announced Human Capital Project, which is focused on investing in people through nutrition, quality health care, education and skills, and RMI’s focus on strengthening early childhood development. The Early Childhood Development project is a response to a request from President Heine to tackle stunting and malnutrition, and put in place early education initiatives that will ensure Marshallese children survive and thrive into a productive adulthood. Other projects in RMI include work on renewable energy, climate and disaster relief investments and insurance, public financial management and coastal and oceanic fisheries.

In FSM, the World Bank is helping improve connectivity, strengthening public financial management, supporting the sustainability of the fishing industry, and developing the energy sector.

“We have already achieved a significant amount in a short period of time with FSM and RMI, and throughout this trip I am pleased to be able to convey our commitment to a long-term partnership with each country,” Kwakwa said.

Read more about this in the December 21, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.