Hanoi (VNA) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a 500-million-USD policy-based loan to allow the Philippines to quickly access emergency financing in the event of disasters triggered by natural hazards or public health emergencies.

The Philippines has been hit by several major disasters in recent years, including typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the Taal volcano eruption in January 2020, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ADB Vice-President Ahmed Saeed said in a statement.

"This new contingent disaster financing instrument will help the government manage fiscal risks posed by those shocks and lessen the economic and social impacts on people's livelihoods and the country's economy," Saeed added.

ADB Financial Sector Specialist for Southeast Asia Benita Ainabe said the Disaster Resilience Improvement Programme will support government policy reforms aimed at ensuring the government to quickly address the needs of vulnerable segments of the population following disasters. It will also strengthen the Philippines' overall response to disasters and pandemics.

Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is among the most disaster-prone countries in the world, including active volcanoes, frequent earthquakes, and an average of 20 typhoons per year with floods and landslides.

Nearly 75 percent of the country's population are vulnerable to multiple natural hazards, and such disasters worsen poverty in typhoon-prone provinces along the country's eastern seaboard.

According to the ADB, disasters cost the Philippines 0.7 to 1.0 percent of GDP every year, including about 43.5 billion pesos (roughly 890 million USD) caused by earthquakes and around 133 billion pesos (roughly 2.7 billion USD) from typhoons.

The bank has provided at least 1.8 billion USD in loans and grants to assist the Philippine government in its urgent COVID-19 response./.