World Bank loan to alleviate natural disaster effects on Algerians
The World Bank approved a $89 million loan to the republic of Algeria to reduce the urban population’s vulnerability to floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The project will seek to boost the country’s ability to respond to and manage situations of natural disasters, introduce long-term preventive measures as well as undertake reconstruction and reforestation to minimize the susceptibility of the urban poor to future disasters.
The four-year project falls in line with the bank’s interim country assistance strategy for Algeria which focuses on fighting poverty by tackling the problems of low-income housing, substandard construction of homes, water and unemployment in urban centers.
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), an arm of the World Bank Group, which provides loans and technical assistance to middle-income countries, will issue the $89 million loan on standard terms. The government of Algeria is contributing $36 million and will play a lead role in managing the project. In the last 20 years, the World Bank has provided approximately eight billion dollars in loans worldwide for post-disaster reconstruction.
The capital of Algiers and other cities are characterized by a rapid rate of urbanization, which soared from 31 percent in 1996 to nearly 60 percent in 2000. Overcrowded homes, absence of finance markets for housing and a system of social housing are all contributing to a fast deterioration of the building stock.
Home to three million people, Algiers is also prone to flash flooding, land and mudslides, and earthquakes. This vulnerability has incurred financial, social and economic losses on the poor and diverted financial resources from conventional development efforts to recovery and construction.
Last November, severe rains accompanied by floods and mud-flows resulted in a loss of 800 lives—95 percent of which occurred in Algiers—and property damage and loss totaling $400 million. The most seriously affected sector was housing, accounting for 33 percent of the total damage, followed by losses to rain water sewage systems, public infrastructure such as roads, bridges and ports, and agricultural facilities.
The approved project responds to the government of Algeria’s request for assistance in rehabilitation and prevention in the aftermath of last year’s floods. One component of the project will prepare the government in responding to natural disasters by financing studies, training personnel in national agencies for civil protection, meteorology and water resources, and purchasing equipment for search and rescue operations and medical evacuations.
Another component of the project will finance emergency reconstruction such as new housing for those who lost their homes to floods last year, water works and reforestation to stabilize soil and limit erosion. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)