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World Bank Approves Additional Financing to Improve Living Environment in Chernobyl Affected Areas of Belarus

September 28, 2010

WASHINGTON, September 28, 2010 - The Board of the Executive Directors of the World Bank today approved a US$30 million Additional Financing Loan for the Republic of Belarus for the Post-Chernobyl Recovery Project (PCRP). The Project provides the population residing in the Chernobyl affected areas of the Brest, Gomel and Mogilev Oblasts with energy efficient, reliable heat and hot water service.

The additional financing will provide for more investments similar to those implemented under the original US$50 million loan which was approved in 2006. The Project finances energy efficiency improvements, including window replacements and energy efficiency lighting in public buildings, rehabilitation of boiler houses and conversion of boiler houses to mini combined heat and power plants. The Project also connects individual houses, which currently use solid fuel for heating, to natural gas.
The energy efficiency component of the original loan has reached 205 schools, hospitals and kindergartens with improved lighting, heating, window and door replacements and other energy efficiency measures. 2,920 residential houses have been connected to a gas system; those households benefited from the improved, more reliable and affordable heat supply. The social impact of the original Project has been significant for improving the quality of the utilities and the comfort in schools and hospitals.
“Our team has just returned from Belarus,” said Pekka Salminen, World Bank Task Team Leader for the Project. “We saw schools and residential houses retrofitted under the Project, and talked to the direct beneficiaries. We visited a college in Gomel where the energy consumption decreased by a half for heat and by 2.5 times for electricity. Teachers and parents noticed significant reduction of absenteeism due to low indoor temperatures. The winter temperatures in the retrofitted schools increased from 14 degrees Celsius in 2005 to 20 degrees in 2009. There is no longer any need to worry about children’s eyes being damaged during lessons after the old lighting fixtures and installations were upgraded. The results are encouraging and we are glad to continue similar improvements at additional sites and improve the services and the comfort to more people affected by the Chernobyl accident”.
The World Bank loan has a maturity of 15 years, including a 3 year grace period. The Project implementation will start in 2011 and will take three years.
Belarus joined the World Bank in 1992. Since then, the Bank’s lending commitments in Belarus have totaled US$719 million for 11 projects; about thirty national programs received grant financing totaling US$ 24 million. Belarus is currently receiving World Bank financing for 6 infrastructure projects to improve energy efficiency, water supply quality, waste management, and developing infrastructure in Chernobyl-affected areas.

Media Contacts
In Belarus
Irina Oleinik
Tel : +375 (17) 226 5284
In Washington
Elena Karaban
Tel : +1 202 473 9277
Natalia Cieslik
Tel : (202) 458-9369