WASHINGTON, November 18, 2008 – The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a US$20 million grant for the Republic of Haiti to finance the reconstruction and emergency maintenance of key infrastructure destroyed or damaged by the series of hurricanes and tropical storms that struck the country in August and September 2008.
“Less than six weeks ago, President Zoellick announced this new emergency grant for Haiti, and in record time, the Bank Board of Directors has approved it,” said Yvonne Tsikata, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. “The Bank is committed to helping the country rebuild key infrastructure damaged by the hurricanes, but most importantly, to continue supporting President Preval and his government in Haiti’s medium and long term development agenda,” Tsikata added.
The Emergency Bridge Reconstruction and Vulnerability Reduction Project will restore access to selected critical points of the Haitian transport system and reduce vulnerability by strengthening the Haitian National Disaster Risk Management System. The project will reduce the impact of future adverse natural events by developing improved technical standards for bridges, promoting the preventive maintenance of infrastructure, and building institutional capacity to handle future disasters.
Specifically, the project will support the following activities:
- Reconstructing bridges to restore basic transportation to areas where major bridges have collapsed. This component retroactively finances the construction of a number of emergency lower-water crossings, will rebuild two of the four damaged main bridges (Mirebalais and Chalon), help the Ministry of Public Works, Transport, and Communications acquire a stock of emergency bridges in preparation for future disasters, and provide targeted assistance to bridge reconstruction works financed by other donors.
- Financing repair and consolidation works on several damaged or weakened bridges and roads. This component will also finance community-based routine maintenance activities.
- Capacity-building activities to facilitate better bridge maintenance and asset management, hydraulic monitoring, and strengthen the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications and its regional offices.
- Supporting the creation of a post-disaster recovery and coordination unit within the Ministry Planning and External Cooperation, provide technical assistance to strengthen the vulnerability reduction capacities of the National Disaster Risk Management System, and pilot a more integrated approach to disaster mitigation through strategic studies to be performed in selected at risk areas.
As part of the recovery emergency assistance, the World Bank expects to provide an additional US$5 million grant for rural water and sanitation from the World Bank’s State and Peace-Building Fund.
The World Bank has approved US$240 million in grants for Haiti since 2005, mostly through the International Development Agency (IDA), the arm that provides interest-free loans and grants to low-income countries. This includes a recent US$10 million emergency grant to help the government respond to the food price crisis. The total does not include the additional grant approved today and approximately US$14 million of trust fund resources invested in Haiti.