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World Bank Scales up Support for Cyclone Idai Hit Nations to $700 Million

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, Dec. 3, 2018.
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, Dec. 3, 2018.

By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo

MAPUTO (Reuters) - The World Bank has increased emergency support for the three southern African countries affected by a devastating cyclone that killed hundreds in March to $700 million, the lender said on Friday.

More than 1,000 people were killed across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi after Cyclone Idai, the worst cyclone in decades, lashed the eastern Indian Ocean coast bringing heavy winds and rains.

New World Bank President David Malpass, who is in Africa for his first foreign trip, said the lender was still assessing the damage caused by Cylcone Kenneth that slammed the island nation of Comoros and then northern Mozambique last month.

As a result, there could be further assistance, Malpass said after touring areas affected by Cyclone Idai in the Mozambican port city of Beira on Friday.

“But even from the existing assistance programme that was directed initially for Cyclone Idai, some of that money we expect to already begin to be used for Cyclone Kenneth,” Malpass told Reuters.

“And as the damage assessment comes in there could be more assistance available.”

The bank said it was activating the International Development Association (IDA) Crisis Response Window (CRW) to provide up to $545 million in total for the three countries.

The IDA is the bank’s fund for the poorest countries.

“This is in addition to nearly $150 million in resources that have recently been made available from existing projects. Together, total World Bank support to the three countries’ recovery reaches around $700 million,” the bank said.

Mozambique, which was hardest hit by the cyclone, would receive $350 million in CRW financing to re-establish the water supply, rebuild damaged public infrastructure and support disease prevention, among other things, the World Bank said.

Malawi would get $120 million in financing, while the lender intended to provide an exceptional allocation of up to $75 million to select United Nations agencies to support Zimbabwe.

“The World Bank Group is working closely with our partners to help the population recover from these terrible storms, build back stronger than before, and improve countries’ resilience to natural disasters,” Malpass said in a statement announcing the support.

As part of his Africa trip, Malpass had also travelled to Ethiopia and Madagascar to visit several World Bank Group-funded projects, and held meetings with government leaders, private sector representatives, and other stakeholders.

In April, the World Bank estimated the direct economic losses from Cyclone Idai in Mozambique to range from $656 million-$773 million, covering damage to buildings, infrastructure and agriculture, a note sent out via the United Nations said. (Editing by James Macharia)