The World Bank (WB) approved on Friday, US$100 million in additional financing to help Morocco strengthen its ability to withstand the impact of natural disasters.

The extra financing will be used to scale up an existing US$200 million Integrated Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Resilience program by improving the country’s institutional capacity for disaster risk management and risk-reduction investments, the WB said in a press release.

“Protecting the people and economy against natural hazard can save Morocco over US$800 million a year,” said Jesko Hentschel, World Bank Maghreb Country Director.

“Developing more resilience to the risk of natural disaster is a critical investment given Morocco’s exposure to climate-related risks. The financing will be used to continue the results-driven DRM program, with the aim of protecting the country’s most vulnerable populations,” he added.

Over the past decade, Morocco has improved its institutional, policy, and investment framework for disaster risk management. To build up its financial resilience as well, it launched a solidarity fund to alleviate the financial impact of natural disasters on households and businesses and design a set of instruments to reduce the State’s financial exposure to risk.

“The focus of this new operation will be to strengthen the impact of risk reduction investments and enhance the monitoring and evaluation of investments,” said Philipp Petermann, Disaster Risk Management Specialist and Task Team Leader.

“The program will accelerate results on the ground by building on reforms the Kingdom has been implementing with the support from the World Bank. It will also seek to promote a gender-inclusive approach to managing disaster risk,” he noted.

The parent program has contributed to strengthening the country’s resilience to natural disasters already, with outcomes that include turning an emergency fund for post-disaster response into a national resilience fund that currently co-finances more than 150 strategic investments to reduce climate-related risks, ranging from flood protection infrastructure to early warning systems, hazard mapping and capacity building, the press release added.

The parent program has also supported a national disaster risk management strategy, thus taking another step to fortify Morocco’s institutional framework for disaster and climate-related risk management.

The World Bank has been stepping up its DRM support to Morocco over the past few years, offering support ranging from financial assistance to advanced technical advice. A contingent credit line against catastrophic risks, approved in 2019, was fully disbursed in April 2020 to support the Government of Morocco’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, it concluded.