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ADB's Work in Tuvalu

Navigating Tough Times

Developing maritime transport is a national priority
Developing maritime transport is a national priority

As part of a decades-old partnership that has helped improve the delivery of public services, Tuvalu and ADB are working together to improve the lives of people living on the outer islands.

In Tuvalu, transporting people and cargo to the outer islands is critical. Nearly half of the country’s small, dispersed population lives away from the capital on eight outer atoll islands. Without proper docking facilities, most of the outer islands can only be accessed by small workboats, which are dangerous for the sick, elderly, children, and people with disabilities.

In November 2016, ADB approved the $13.3 million Outer Island Maritime Infrastructure Project, a grant that will upgrade jetties on these small islands to move people and goods more safely and efficiently between ship and shore. This project will construct a small harbor in Nukulaelae atoll, and rehabilitate boat ramps in Nanumaga, Nui, and Niutao atolls.

"Improving maritime transportation is a key priority for government and we are calling on partners, including ADB, to work with us to make our ports safer and more efficient so that we can enhance economic development and improve livelihoods for our people in the outer islands"

Maatia Toafa
Minister of Finance and Economic Development

“Better maritime transport will bring more economic opportunities to the people on the outer islands, and improve access to social services, such as medical care and education, reducing the need for migration to the capital,” said Shigehiko Muramoto of ADB’s Pacific Department. “Along with improved livelihoods, this project will also help build the climate resilience of community infrastructure on the outer islands by making it easier to transport construction materials.”

This is an example of the problem-solving projects that Tuvalu and ADB have been undertaking since 1993 as part of an overall country assistance program focused on improving government efficiency and services, and upgrading education and maritime transport.

In the late 2000s, ADB grants to Tuvalu totaling $7.6 million helped counter the social and economic impact of the 2007 global financial crisis and fortified Tuvalu against future shocks. In collaboration with the governments of Australia and New Zealand, and the World Bank, a comprehensive reform program was undertaken to help Tuvalu build resilience to external economic shocks and disasters.

Today, ADB and Tuvalu continue the vital work of improving the country’s maritime transport while supporting government financial reform efforts and the promotion of job-creating economic growth via the private sector.

This article was originally published in a special edition of Together We Deliver, which tells 50 stories highlighting the importance of good partnerships in Asia and the Pacific in meeting the complex development challenges of this dynamic region.