Core funding secured for Government’s TC Harold/COVID-19 Recovery Program to proceed: DG Nimbtik

Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold destroyed vital public infrastructure when it made landfall in Vanuatu on April 6, 2020. Credit: Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office.

The core funding secured for the Government’s Tropical Cyclone (TC) Harold and COVID-19 Recovery Program is on schedule to advance.

This was affirmed by Dr. Gregoire Nimbtik, Director General of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Recovery Committee (NRC) yesterday afternoon.

“The Governments of Australia and New Zealand recently provided core funding for the recovery program to commence – totalling up to VT2.4 billion which would allow recovery of some of the key high priority areas identified in the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA),” DG Nimbtik stated.

“Immediately after the Tropical Cyclone Harold and COVID-19 onslaught in April 2021, planning for recovery for the combined disaster began.

“It has been a comprehensive and challenging process – but is one that is led and owned by the Vanuatu government and has allowed for the strengthening of our systems and processes.

“We are currently at the final stage where sectors will need to identify which of their priority projects will be implemented first, based on the available funding.

“This means sectors need to submit their implementation plans as a matter of priority in order for the National Recovery Committee to allocate funding to projects.”

Australia has provided VT1.6 billion and the Government of New Zealand has provided VT814 million to support the Vanuatu Government’s Recovery Program.

Australia’s funding targets restoration of health and education facilities; improving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health, education and community facilities; promote economic recovery; and gender and social protection to support the most vulnerable.

New Zealand’s funding support focuses on the education sector, and will fund the repair and rebuild essential school infrastructure.

The Government of Vanuatu has requested for all recovery funding from donors be coordinated and disbursed through the Vanuatu government system, and for the NRC to oversee coordination of all recovery efforts.

New Zealand and Australia’s funding complies with this request, and the funds have been directed to the Vanuatu government system under the respective Financing Agreements between the two governments and the Government of Vanuatu.

NRC will coordinate the funding support from Australia and New Zealand, and any other future financing by other development partners.

The current available support will fund NRC-approved sector projects, specifically projects that fit within funders’ priority areas.

The Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report for TC Harold and COVID-19 estimated the total combined monetary value of the impacts of TC Harold and COVID-19 at VT68 billion, while the cost of recovery and reconstruction activities is VT39.5 billion, with the greatest needs being education, health, food security and agriculture.

The PDNA has supported government to initiate strategic and holistic reconstruction planning as reflected in the National Recovery Strategy 2020-2023, which frames the recovery process around the priority needs and provides the overarching direction for recovery to proceed.

The Ministry of the Prime Minister (MPM) has responsibility for recovery efforts, following the Council of Minister’s Decision of 12 March 2018 [Order No.514 of 2018], which formalised the National Recovery Committee (NRC) as a permanent structure, with Department of Strategic Policy Planning & Aid Coordination (DSPPAC) as the NRC Secretariat.

The NRC is responsible for the oversight and governance of recovery projects funded by donor partners. It is also responsible for reporting to Government and other stakeholders on progress of recovery projects.

The NRC has approved 29 projects submitted by sectors. The projects, which were approved based on alignment to priority recovery needs outlined in the PDNA and to national priorities, include a few projects, which have funding already allocated to them.

The total cost for the twenty-nine (29) projects is VUV11 billion – and the available donor funding is VT2.4 billion which is why sectors will need to identify which of their approved projects will be implemented first.

The identification of the 29 approved projects has been the result of an effective process of project prioritisation, undertaken by DSPPAC with sectors in late 2020, to ensure alignment to priority recovery needs.

The NRC has been at the forefront of the recovery process, starting with the establishment of the Recovery Operations Centre (ROC) within the Department of Strategic Policy Planning & Aid Coordination (DSPPAC) in early 2020 to coordinate the (PDNA) process with the support of sectors, sector analysts at DSPPAC and regional UN agencies.

The DSPPAC, consistent with its function as the lead coordinating government agency for disaster recovery planning, has successfully led the development of the country’s first home-grown PDNA and National Recovery Strategy and is continuing essential engagement with sectors and donors to progress recovery.

The Aid Coordination Unit (ACU) within DSPPAC has been playing an effective role to coordinate and harmonise recovery funding based on recovery priorities and ensuring that national budget reprioritization and donor direct funding support aligns to the Vanuatu Recovery Strategy and to the Public Finance Economic Management (PFEM) Act regulations.

The Ministries responsible for the productive sector, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB) and the Ministry of Trade, Tourism Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business (MTTCNVB), have proceeded with recovery TC Harold and COVID-19 recovery projects after assigning and re-prioritizing budgetary resources.

Other sectors have also been progressing recovery activities using Ministry recurrent budgets and within existing DFAs with donor partners particularly for education, health and WASH.

With current government efforts to commence recovery efforts along with what is already underway by sectors and donor partners, the forecast is that a substantial number of recovery activities will be implemented within the next three years, which is the official term for the TC Harold/COVID-19 Recovery Program.

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