Grant to Help Restore Livelihoods of Tsunami-Affected Farmers in the Maldives

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB has approved a US$1 million grant from its Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), financed by the Government of Japan, to help restore the livelihoods of farmers in the Maldives affected by the December tsunami disaster.

Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), financed by the Government of Japan, to help restore the livelihoods of farmers in the Maldives affected by the December tsunami disaster.

The grant, the first JFPR-financed tsunami assistance, will help about 390 farmers engaged in field crop farming in the 26 most affected islands to restart their livelihood activities and raise their quality of life above pre-tsunami levels.

"These identified farmers are in most need of immediate assistance among all the tsunami-affected farmers in the Maldives," says Ki Hee Ryu, an ADB Project Specialist.

The tsunami disaster severely affected about a third of the Maldives' population of 300,000, and significantly damaged 39 of 200 inhabited islands.

The agriculture sector, in particular, was badly affected by the tsunami. The tsunami waves caused temporary damage to soil and water, semipermanent damage to perennials, and permanent damage to standing annual crops. Damage to field crops alone is estimated at $5.36 million.

"As the soil contamination is expected to be only temporary, the project's provision of inputs is the right strategy for a quick recovery," says Mr. Ryu.

The grant will provide the farmers with agricultural materials, such as seed, fertilizer, pesticides, equipment, and farm tools including hoes, shovels, and sprayers. To complement these, working capital of about $234 equivalent per farm household will also be provided through community-based organizations.

To ensure the sustainability of the project and that the assistance and working capital provided are used efficiently, the grant will provide extension services to help farmers improve agricultural practices, adopt appropriate or new technology, rehabilitate soil contaminated by tsunami waves, and learn new skills to enable them to diversify their sources of income. In addition, the grant will support three mobile extension teams and provide the services of a domestic agronomist and a domestic community development specialist.

The project will be implemented by a centralized project management unit to be created under the National Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Program. The Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture, and Marine Resources is the implementing agency for the project, which will be carried out over about two years.

The grant complements the Tsunami Emergency Assistance Project financed by a $20 million grant from ADB's Asian Tsunami Fund and $1.8 million loan from the Asian Development Fund, to help the Maldives rehabilitate damaged infrastructure and restore livelihoods in the wake of the tsunami.

The JFPR was set up in 2000 with an initial contribution of Y10 billion (about $90 million). The Fund now stands at over $344 million, of which $153 million have been committed.

In January, the Government of Japan announced the provision of $20 million through the JFPR at ADB to support relief measures in areas devastated by the December earthquake and tsunami.