BRASILIA, January 19, 2011 - In response to one of the worst natural disasters in Brazil’s history, the World Bank said it has committed its global disaster management expertise and funding to support recovery efforts and provide a safe environment for thousands of affected families.
The World Bank is negotiating a $485 million loan to Rio de Janeiro state for rebuilding and disaster prevention efforts following the devastating landslides of last week, Bank officials said.
The announcement came after a high-level meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, where World Bank vicepresident Otaviano Canuto and Diop offered the Bank’s support in the government’s emergency response to the Rio catastrophe. Also present were Minister Antonio Palocci, Minister Miriam Belchior, the Finance Ministry’s viceminister, Nelson Barbosa, and representatives from the Rio de Janeiro State government.
A majority of the loan will become available soon, with additional funding from existing projects being reassigned or freed up to immediately contribute to the state’ s emergency response, said Diop.
"We expect the first tranche of the loan, worth $290 million, to be approved in the next few weeks," said Diop. Meanwhile, he added, the Bank has reassigned US$20 million from a loan earmarked for the Rio de Janeiro Sustainable Rural Development Project to the State’s emergency efforts and has freed resources from another loan approved recently for Rio de Janeiro, Public Sector Modernization Project, worth US$18.7 million in order to contribute to the government’s immediate needs.
Additionally, a technical assistance loan worth US$30 million is being prepared to help improve the State’s institutional capacity to plan and respond to these types of events, Diop noted.
According to Brazilian authorities the new resources will support the government’s plan to relocate families from risk areas and build new homes for those displaced by the mudslides. Risk management training will also be provided with the new funding, they added.
Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff (far right) meets with World Bank Vice president Otaviano Canuto and World Bank Country Director Makhtar Diop to discuss the Bank's support in the emergency efforts to help Rio's mudslide victims.
“We’re going to rebuild the affected cities and remove the families who are still in risk areas," said Rio’s government Chief of Staff Régis Fichtner.
The Bank’s support is aligned with the institution’s new strategic partnership with Brazil currently in preparation. Disaster prevention and mitigation will be two key components of the new partnership as the fight against extreme climatic events becomes more frequent and puts to the test the state’s capacities to address those issues, said Diop.
“With the increasing frequency of catastrophes linked to climate change, it is necessary to strengthen the link between infrastructure and poverty reduction, climate change and sustainable development,” he added.
In the meantime, Brazil’s federal government will launch a recovery plan for cities struck by the mudslides including tax benefits and interest-free loans, authorities said. Municipalities affected include Areal, Bom Jardim, Nova Friburgo, Petrópolis, São José do Vale do Rio Preto, Sumidouro and Teresópolis.