APIA, SAMOA (16 April 2020) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today announced the release of a $2.9 million (8.1 million tala) grant from its Pacific Disaster Resilience Program to help finance the Government of Samoa’s response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

A state of emergency was declared in Samoa on 20 March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The scale of the emergency is expected to be beyond the capacity of the government’s health sector to meet the immediate expenses needed for adequate public health services during the crisis. The Government of Samoa had already announced a 66.3 million tala ($23.78 million) stimulus program to cope with the economic impact of the pandemic.

“The $2.9 million grant will help fund the country’s response to this unprecedented health emergency,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez. “This quick-disbursing financing will allow Samoa to respond rapidly to the challenges of the pandemic and help support vulnerable groups.”

The Samoan economy suffered from the measles outbreak in late 2019. With the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, Samoa closed its borders and declared a state of emergency, which remains in place until at least 2 May. This response, and similar actions by neighboring countries, has had a strong negative economic impact on Samoa, with its tourism and export sectors particularly affected.

ADB’s Pacific Disaster Resilience Program was established in December 2017 to help strengthen Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu’s resilience to disasters. On 13 April, ADB extended its contingent disaster financing instrument to include health-related emergencies in the definition of natural hazards, allowing for the release of funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pacific Disaster Resilience Program fills a financing gap experienced by many Pacific countries hit hard by disasters. It provides a predictable and quick-disbursing source of financing for early response, recovery, and reconstruction activities.

Samoa’s $2.9 million grant will complement ADB’s $20 billion package—announced on 13 April—to support member economies as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. ADB is engaged in discussions with all its developing member countries, including those in the Pacific, on how best to utilize this support.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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