Resilient Kerala Programme Receives USD 150 Million Loan Approval from World Bank

Image Source : FILE World Bank approves $150 million loan to support the Resilient Kerala Program

The World Bank’s Board of Directors has given their seal of approval to a loan of $150 million, aimed at supporting the Resilient Kerala program. This program is specifically designed to enhance Kerala’s ability to cope with natural disasters, climate change, and disease outbreaks. According to a statement from the World Bank, this additional funding will bolster Kerala’s resilience in vital areas such as coastal erosion and water resource management.

Kerala, located along the Southern Indian coast, is highly susceptible to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change. In 2021, the state experienced floods and landslides that resulted in numerous deaths and approximately $100 million in damages. These recurring calamities have had devastating effects on vulnerable groups, particularly women farmers and fisherwomen.

This new loan complements the World Bank’s previous investment of $125 million. Together, these projects are anticipated to protect nearly 5 million people from the ravages of floods.

Continued Support from the World Bank for Kerala

“This additional financing signifies the World Bank’s commitment to supporting Kerala in fortifying its resilience to climate change,” said Auguste Tano Kouame, the World Bank’s Country Director for India. “The project will mainly concentrate on addressing coastal erosion in vulnerable areas of the state, having a significant impact on millions of lives,” he mentioned.

Currently, 45% of Kerala’s 580 km coastline is eroding due to sustained urbanization and deforestation. Heavy rainfall wreaks havoc in the upland districts and rivers of the Pamba river basin, including the Idukki district where the river originates. Studies have revealed a decline of over 44% in forest cover between 1925 and 2012, while settlements have increased by 400% in the same period.

Evaluating Present and Future Shoreline Changes

The additional funding will expand and enhance the state’s capacity to mitigate the impacts of coastal erosion through the development of a shoreline management plan. This plan will assess current and future shoreline changes in the state and establish policies to address risks to environmental resources, human settlements, and infrastructure along the coast.

Following the devastating floods and landslides in 2018, the World Bank’s initial investment focused on enhancing Kerala’s ability to respond to economic shocks and prevent loss of lives, assets, and livelihoods. The program provided support for significant policy and institutional reforms, including improved management of the Pamba river basin, sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture, and disaster management planning at the local level.

This additional funding will now address urgent attention to vulnerable coastal erosion sites and hotspots. It will also aid in the development of an integrated river basin management plan for the Pamba river basin and support the restoration of rivers and lake embankments to minimize future flood damages.

Promoting Climate Resilience through the Project

The project will assist the state in developing a climate budget and a roadmap to fill gaps in its open data and digital systems, ultimately reducing vulnerability to natural hazards. Currently, satellite maps, risk maps, and sectoral data are not integrated into a single platform, leading to deficiencies in the planning and execution of public sector investments.

“The additional funding will expand the coverage of the original program from four to nine coastal districts in the state,” stated Elif Ayhan, Balakrishna Menon Parameswaran, Natsuko Kikutake, and Deepak Singh, Task Team Leaders for the project. “By enhancing the state’s technical capabilities, this new funding will primarily focus on improving its capacity to plan, budget, and implement initiatives that will contribute to Kerala’s climate resilience.”

The loan of $150 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a final maturity of 14 years, including a grace period of six years.

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