LA PAZ, June 28, 2012– More than 38,000 people have benefited from the Emergency Recovery and Disaster Management Project (PREGD), a Bolivian government program financed by the World Bank for US$ 16.9 million. The development objective of PREGD, which began in 2007, is to “contribute to restoring access to basic infrastructure and strengthen the government’s capacities at the national, sectoral and municipal levels to respond to and prevent natural disasters and rebuild damaged infrastructure,” said the World Bank Resident Representative in Bolivia, Faris Hadad-Zervos. This project’s portfolio of recovery and reconstruction works includes over 250 sub-projects valued at US$ 9 million and which benefit more than 500,000 people around the country.
Armando Guzmán, World Bank manager for PREGD, said that this project “has responded to national reconstruction plans developed to address the impact of El Niño and La Niña weather phenomena, strengthened capacities of the agencies involved and implemented critical rehabilitation and reconstruction works to mitigate disaster risks in Bolivia.”
Two recently completed works in Potosí were the rehabilitation of the Don Diego - Colavi Highway in the Municipality of Tacobamba, with a budget exceeding US$ 300,000, and the reconstruction of the Lamani Baja irrigation system, located in the Municipality of Betanzos, for a total of more than US$18,000.
Works in Tacobamba, which include the rebuilding of walls, installation of sewers, widening of curves and a bridge, benefit about 2,200 of the more than 38,000 people benefiting from the PREGD in Potosí. These works facilitate transport of their agricultural products to nearby cities for their sale, as well as transport for the mining industry. During the event to inaugurate the bridge, Colavi Neighborhood Oversight Committee President Jesús Maquera informed the audience that “it used to take a whole day to reach Potosi; now it takes just two hours.”
In addition, the rehabilitation of a 725-meter irrigation canal in Betanzos has benefited 978 people by improving the living conditions of farm families in a 200-hectare area. At the inauguration ceremony, Betanzos Mayor Esteban Llanos thanked the World Bank for its support. “This project strengthens the economic potential of agricultural production,” he said.
Attending the inauguration ceremonies of these works were Flavio Rivas, Bolivian vice-minister of planning and coordination; Oscar Cabrera, vice-minister of civil defense (VIDECI) and Ezequiel Gómez, director-general of the Social Benefit Fund (FPS-Potosí). World Bank Project Manager Armando Guzmán also attended the events.
The FPS presented the results and impact of the reconstruction and rehabilitation projects (totaling US$ 2.9 million) carried out in Potosí Department to the government representatives and mayors of the municipalities of Betanzos, Chaqui, Tacobamba, Puna, Caiza “D” and Tinguipaya.
Since 2006, Bolivia has declared seven national states of emergency in response to the effects of natural disasters. This suggests a continuing need for better planning to prevent, manage and mitigate emergencies and disasters in the different departments.
The Ministry of Development Planning is the main counterpart of this World Bank project, whereas the VIDECI, the National Meteorological and Hydrographic System (SENAMHI), FPS and other key ministries are responsible for project implementation.