The World Bank has extended a $300-million loan to the Philippines to fortify government buildings in Metro Manila and prepare for “The Big One” earthquake, another project financed by official development assistance and added to the country’s record-high debt pile which stood at P10.99 billion as of April.
Its board approved on June 2 the financing which would cover the bulk of the Philippines’ $309.5-million seismic risk reduction and resilience project, to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The project will upgrade about 425 structures including school buildings and health centers to reduce damage from natural hazards such as earthquakes. It will, therefore, “reduce risks for about 300,000 teachers, students, doctors, patients and staff who are the users of these facilities,” the World Bank said in a statement. Earlier World Bank estimates had shown that “The Big One”—a strong, magnitude-7.2 earthquake along the West Valley Fault—could inflict about 48,000 fatalities and $48 billion in economic losses.
“Metro Manila or the National Capital Region is the seat of government and the country’s population, economic and cultural center. Enhancing the safety of its buildings and structures while boosting institutional response to disasters will help protect the lives and safety of more than 12 million residents. It will provide much-needed economic resilience for the country,” World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand Ndiamé Diop said.
The project will also better equip the DPWH in preparing for and responding to possibly overlapping natural disasters like floods, typhoons, volcanic eruptions as well as pandemics, the World Bank said. “It will finance the DPWH’s essential equipment to upgrade its capability for communications and restoration of mobility and transport in Metro Manila after a major earthquake. It will also improve core capacities and capabilities to organize operations and coordinate resources to respond to other emergencies.” —Ben O. de Vera
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