Money & Banking

Kerala inks $125-million pact with World Bank to boost disaster preparedness

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on July 21, 2021

The World Bank is investing in Kerala’s capabilities to respond to shocks to the state economy

Government of India, the Government of Kerala and the World Bank have signed a $125-million programme to support Kerala’s preparedness against natural disasters, climate change impacts, disease outbreaks, and pandemics.

Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India; Rajesh Kumar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank are signatories to the agreement consummated in Delhi.

Need for building resilience

A World Bank spokesperson quoted Junaid Ahmad as saying that in today’s context of increased economic, climatic, and health shocks, building resilience of economies is a policy imperative.

The World Bank is investing in Kerala’s capabilities to respond to shocks to the state economy and, importantly, prevent as much as possible the loss of lives, assets, and livelihoods. The objective is not to finance schemes but partner with the State government to improve the state’s financial health.

The programme also seeks to invest in sectors like health, water resources, social protection and agriculture, and address the drivers of natural disasters, climate change, and pandemic risks.

Multi-sectoral approach

For instance, in the Pamba River Basin, a multi-sectoral approach will be tested in Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, and Alappuzha districts which represent a microcosm with tropical monsoon forests, dense urban settlements, and a rice bowl. Its success will have a demonstration impact across the state.

This is part of a programmatic series of World Bank-financed operations in the state. The First Resilient Kerala Development Policy Operation approved in June 2019 undertook several initiatives, the spokesperson said.

It helped the state draft a River Basin Conservation and Management Act, which will conserve and regulate water resources and ensure their sustainable management, allocation, and utilisation. It also introduced climate-resilient agriculture, risk-informed land use, and disaster management planning.

State Partnership Framework

The programme laid the foundations for a five-year State Partnership Framework and will focus on two key areas. First, it will incorporate disaster risk planning in the master plans of urban and local self-governments to ease financial constraints on the State government when faced with unexpected shocks.

Second, it will help make the health, water resources management, agriculture, and road sectors more resilient to calamities. Meanwhile, the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, stated that the state has shown resilience against the impacts of natural disasters and climate change.

It has been undertaking comprehensive shifts in policies, institutions, and programmes to address challenges. The Resilient Kerala Programme will help institutionalise disaster preparedness across sectors to ensure a resilient recovery and sustainable development pathway for the state.

Published on July 21, 2021

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