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Thiruvananthapuram, June 25 : The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a $125 million program to support Kerala's preparedness against natural disasters, climate change impacts, disease outbreaks and pandemics.

The heavy monsoons of 2018 were the worst Kerala had seen in nearly a century, triggering devastating floods and landslides which impacted more than five million people, mainly in the Pamba River Basin.

In a statement issued by the World Bank on Friday, the Resilient Kerala Program will focus on two key areas which includes incorporating disaster risk planning in the master plans of urban and local self-governments to ease financial constraints on the state government when faced with unexpected shocks.

Secondly it will help make the health, water resources management, agriculture, and road sectors more resilient to calamities.

The program is part of a programmatic series of Bank financed operations in the state.

The First Resilient Kerala Development Policy Operation (DPO) approved in June 2019 undertook several initiatives.

It helped the state draft a River Basin Conservation and Management Act, which will conserve and regulate water resources and ensure their sustainable management, allocation, and utilization.

It also introduced climate-resilient agriculture, risk-informed land use, and disaster management planning.

The program laid the foundations for a five year State Partnership Framework.

Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India said in today's context of increased economic, climatic, and health shocks, building resilience of economies is a policy imperative.

"The Bank is therefore investing in Kerala's capabilities to respond to shocks to the state economy and, importantly, prevent as much as possible the loss of lives, assets, and livelihoods.

"The objective is not to finance schemes but partner with the Government of Kerala to improve the state's financial health; invest in sectors like health, water resources, social protection and agriculture; and address the drivers of natural disasters, climate change, and pandemic risks," said Ahmad.

The program will be state-wide and in the Pamba River Basin, Kerala will test a multisectoral approach in Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, and Alappuzha districts.

This area is a microcosm of the state, with tropical monsoon forests, dense urban settlements, and the rice bowl of Kerala in its lowlands. Its success will have a demonstration impact across the state.

Among the other areas which will be covered include sustainable fiscal and debt management, disaster risk finance and social protection, disaster and climate-resilient urban development, resilient public health systems, integrated and sustainable water resources management,sustainable and resilient food systems and climate-resilient road infrastructure.

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