Two students from The University of the South Pacific (USP) are the first in the world to complete a new World Bank Group online training ‘Disaster Risk Finance in the Pacific’.

Mr Alick Suimae of the Solomon Islands and Milika Kuruvakadua of Fiji completed the training in October 2018, and were officially recognised by the World Bank Group as the inaugural graduates in a presentation at USP last week.

Ms Kuruvakadua, who is undertaking a Bachelor’s of Commerce in Finance and Banking, was surprised to hear she was one of the first to complete the new training.

“Disaster Risk Finance is important in the Pacific because the region is very prone to natural disasters and it is important to learn how to cover the financial losses caused by a disaster,” said Ms Kuruvakadua.

Mr Suimae said that, “as Pacific Islanders we are faced with disasters all year round thus we should have the knowledge of how to prepare for it financially when disaster strikes.”

Living on an artificial island during his childhood, which Mr Suimae shared was washed away by King Tides.

“A disaster took the island away from me and that is one of the things that motivated me to do the course,” Mr Suimae said.

USP, in collaboration with the World Bank Group, introduced disaster risk finance into the curriculum in 2017.

Dr Nacanieli Rika, Associate Dean, Planning & Quality of the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) said that Disaster Risk Finance is an emerging field with great relevance to Pacific countries that are prone to natural disasters including cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.

“Therefore it is essential for USP Finance graduates to be equipped with knowledge and skills relating to Disaster Risk Finance. For this reason the School of Accounting and Finance, in collaboration with World Bank Group, incorporated Disaster Risk Finance into the curriculum in 2017 as a component of FM302 – Financial Management in the Pacific Region,” Dr Rika stated.

To date over one hundred (100) USP students have completed World Bank Group online training in disaster risk finance.

Lasse Melgaard, World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific said that bringing World Bank expertise on disaster risk finance into the classroom provides students with access to the latest developments in this emerging field of practice.

“I am delighted that students from USP have been the first to complete this important training,” Mr Melgaard said.

The online training is a component of the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Finance Initiative (PCRAFI) programme which aims to increase the financial resilience of Pacific Island Countries, boosting their capacity to meet post disaster funding needs without compromising domestic budgets.

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