Build, Back, Better: How ADB is Helping the Pacific Recover from Tropical Cyclone Harold

Video | 26 May 2020

Tropical Cyclone Harold battered large parts of the Pacific in April, claiming dozens of lives and causing $120 million in damage. Along with key partners such as Australia, New Zealand, and the World Bank, ADB is helping the countries of Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu to recover. Grants totaling $1.6 million from ADB provided desperately-needed humanitarian assistance such as medical kits, food, and bottled water, plus help to restore key infrastructure in the areas of water, sanitation, and energy.


These are the beginnings of a project that will soon transform the Pacific nation of Nauru.

It’s a new shipping port that will make imports and exports cheaper, quicker, and safer—providing a lifeline for Nauru’s economy and people.

But a modern port needs workers with the knowledge to run it.

And nearby, that’s what’s happening.

ADB is funding the training of the port’s 60 workers over the next 10 months in preparation for the port’s opening in 2021.

The workers are being schooled in maritime safety, stevedoring, equipment handling and maintenance, accounting, finance, and human resources.

Ricky Ellis, Technical Advisor

They’re already quite capable guys, as far as mechanicing goes, they already know what they’re doing, it’s just some of the intricacies of getting, going through, say, a service and checking all the bits and pieces. Just getting a bit more in-depth in a service.

Jando Andrews, Mechanic

He does things the modern way. We check from the electrical stuff, right up to the wheels and everything. Before we don’t do that. We only service the engine, change the oil, the oil filter, the fuel filters. But now, we go through everything. And he explains bit by bit. Well, we understand a lot.

The new port is jointly funded by ADB and Australia, Japan, Nauru, and the Green Climate Fund.

The benefits for Nauru will be significant.

Michael Nye, Chief Executive Office, Nauru Maritime and Port Authority

The first benefit is it makes the importation of domestic cargo competitive and therefore that should result in a lowering of the freight rates and prices to the island residents. The second thing, it will allow a connectivity with the rest of the world as far as imports and exports are concerned. So it will allow the island to communicate with the rest of the world with exports.

The boat harbor at Aiwo on the western side of the island has been used as a de-facto port for more than a century—but it’s not equipped for boats to dock.

So the loading and unloading of cargo from container vessels and fuel from tankers happens offshore where it’s dangerous and sometimes life-threatening.

For the workers who will operate this new port, the skills they’re learning now could be life-changing.

Jando Andrews, Mechanic

Most of the guys too, they don’t have any certificates or they haven’t been to any trainings. Well, if we happen to get that opportunity, I think we’ll be lucky.

Ricky Ellis, Workshop Manager and Technical Advisor

It’s a good way of making sure the port functions properly and we’re just not giving them a whole lot of stuff and leaving. We’re giving them the tools and the knowledge to keep it all running and make it work.