28,000 Inhabitants of Mailuu-Suu Valey in the Kyrgyz Republic to Benefit from Improved and Safer Access on the Road to Villages

June 9, 2011

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2011 – The World Bank’s Board of Directors today approved an Additional Grant in the amount of US$ 1 million to support the on-going Disaster Hazard Mitigation Project in the Kyrgyz Republic. The additional funds would enable repairing the flood damage inflicted last spring on crucial road infrastructure necessary for the transport of radioactive materials from their currently unsafe locations to the new and engineered disposal sites.

The road repair is also crucial to ensure long term, sustainable protection of the road from repeated damage by extreme flood events. It also provides a safe alternative transport route in Mailuu-Suu valley as a benefit for the local population who will have improved and safer access on the road to their villages. This would also increase safety of public transport by avoiding sections of high landslide risk on the existing road on the other side of the river bank.

Furthermore, the grant would also contribute to the relocation of additional volumes of radioactive waste rock discovered during the original project implementation, as well as the continued relocation of radioactive tailings. This material is currently exposed to erosion, dislocation and dissipation by the surface water network. The grant will also eliminate the risk of landslides occurring at the waste dump site, which could block and dam up the river and trigger flood waves and mudslides with catastrophic consequences for downstream population and ecosystems.  Lastly, the funds would support monitoring activities for strengthening capacities of measuring uranium and other toxicological elements in various water resources.

The grant will improve both the environment and the health situation around Mailuu-Suu,” says Alexander Kremer, Country Manager in the Kyrgyz Republic. “It will protect rural people from radioactivity and devastating floods, as well as connecting their villages to the road network.”

The original project was designed to mitigate existing negative impacts by radioactive waste materials deposited in multiple locations around Mailuu-Suu. The overall project impact is already positive: amelioration and strengthening works along the Aylampa-Sai River are completed and the behavior of this structure during and after the rain season is satisfactory. Works were executed on several tailings and waste dumps to address the most serious safety issues. The waste Dump which was in the center of Kara-Jigach village before the project has been relocated.  A new National Emergency Response and Management Plan has been prepared under the project and will be approved by the Government shortly. Activities under additional financing will also cover repair works of infrastructure built, and address newly discovered quantities of waste.

The World Bank has been engaged in disaster mitigation operations in other ECA countries, including Romania, Poland, Russia, Albania, Turkey and Moldova. With this background, the Bank has the ability to focus not only on the physical, but also the institutional, economic, and social aspects of disaster mitigation and to strengthen the capacity in the country and in the implementing agency regarding a more pro-active approach of disaster management.

The Disaster Hazard Mitigation Project will be implemented within a year by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic.

The World Bank’s overall mission in the Kyrgyz Republic is to promote economic growth, reduce poverty, and encourage a better quality of life. 45 percent of the World Bank’s assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic is in the form of grants. The other 55 percent is in highly concessional credits – no interest, and only a 0.75 percent service charge. Credits are repayable in 40 years, including a 10-year grace period, while grants require no repayment. The financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic since 1992 amounts to around 1 billion, in the form of grants and highly concessional credits.

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