World Bank Approves $ 125 Million Program to Support Green and Resilient Kerala
WASHINGTON, DC, June 24, 2021 – The Board of Directors of the World Bank approved a $ 125 million program to support Kerala’s preparedness against natural disasters, the impacts of climate change, epidemics and pandemics.
The strong monsoons of 2018 were the worst Kerala has seen in almost a century, triggering devastating floods and landslides. It affected more than 5 million people, mainly in the Pamba river basin.
The Resilient Kerala program will focus on two key areas. First, it will integrate disaster risk planning into the master plans of autonomous local and urban communities in order to alleviate the financial constraints weighing on the state government in the face of unexpected shocks. Second, it will help make the health, water resources management, agriculture and roads sectors more resilient to disasters.
The program is part of a programmatic series of Bank-financed operations in the government. The first Kerala Resilient Development Policy (DPO) operation approved in June 2019 has taken several initiatives. He helped the state draft a law on the conservation and management of river basins, which will conserve and regulate water resources and ensure their sustainable management, allocation and use. It also introduced climate-resilient agriculture, risk-informed land use and disaster management planning. The program laid the groundwork for a 5-year state partnership framework.
“In the current context of increased economic, climatic and health shocks, strengthening the resilience of economies is a political imperative ”, mentionned Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “The Bank is therefore investing in the capacity of Kerala to respond to shocks to the state economy and, most importantly, to prevent as much as possible the loss of lives, assets and livelihoods. The objective is not to fund programs but to partner with the government of Kerala to improve the financial health of the state; investing in sectors such as health, water resources, social protection and agriculture; and tackling the drivers of natural disasters, climate change and pandemic risks. “
The program will be statewide. In the Pamba River basin, Kerala will test a multisectoral approach in the districts of Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha. This area is a microcosm of the state, with tropical monsoon forests, dense urban settlements, and Kerala’s rice bowl in its lowlands. Its success will have a demonstration impact statewide.
Support to key sectors under the program includes:
- Sustainable management of public finances and debt. Limited fiscal space and high debt severely limited Kerala’s ability to cope with unexpected shocks. The program will establish a debt management unit within the Ministry of Finance to support the government’s efforts to bring its debt-to-GDPD ratio back to a sustainable path.
- Disaster risk financing and social protection. To provide timely and adequate assistance to vulnerable households, the program will develop a comprehensive disaster risk financing framework; create a unified database of vulnerable households for post-disaster safety net payments; pilot a modified crop risk insurance payment system and mobilize market-based resources to complement public disaster risk financing.
- Urban development resilient to disasters and climate. To cope with future disasters, Kerala introduced a risk-informed urban master plan, multi-year investment budgeting and emergency management. The program will support these efforts to increase the state’s climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives.
- Resilient public health systems. The high population density and extensive forest cover have increased Kerala’s vulnerability to large-scale epidemics, including COVID-19. The program will establish a single IT platform that will strengthen coordination, joint surveillance and preparedness to counter future epidemics.
- Integrated and sustainable management of water resources. During the first program, the State prepared a draft law on the conservation and management of river basins and created a River Basin Conservation and Management Authority (RBCMA). This program will strengthen the RBCMA to regulate the state’s water resources and ensure its sustainable management, distribution and use. A flood forecasting system in the Pamba River Basin will benefit millions of people by mitigating the risk of floods and drought.
- Sustainable and resilient food systems. Through the first commitment, the state adopted agro-ecological zoning (ZAE) methods to promote agricultural systems that are resilient to climate shocks. In addition to supporting ZAE-based approaches, the program will set up an integrated agricultural management information system for precision agriculture.
- Climate resilient road infrastructure. The program will modernize 400 km of the central road network through results and performance based road maintenance contracts. A road maintenance management system will deploy climate resistant designs and ensure adequate budgets are available.
“The groundwork laid during the first program improved the government’s ability to assess and respond to disasters. The new program aims to strengthen the state’s capacity to cope with potential shocks by integrating climate and disaster risks into planning and investment processes ”, mentionned Elif Ayhan, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist and one of World Bank work team leaders for the program.
The $ 125 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a final maturity of 14 years, including a grace period of six years.