WASHINGTON, March 31, 2015– The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a US$25 million International Development Association (IDA)* emergency support grant for Burundi to restore key transport and drainage infrastructure after the heavy rains of February 2014 caused extensive flooding and landslides that damaged property in and around the capital city of Bujumbura. It will also promote climate resilient activities and help to prevent or mitigate future natural disasters.
The country faces the risk of being isolated if urgent road rehabilitation works are not implemented. The financing approved today supports the Infrastructure Resilience Emergency Project that will repair key infrastructure to restore vital intra/inter regional road transport links, which are imperative in protecting the country’s competitiveness.
“The most urgent action and response to the emergency were immediately taken by the Government of Burundi with support of development partners. The World Bank was among the first to assist the government in addressing the most urgent needs through restructuring of two on-going projects, in roads and urban management,” said Rachidi Radji, The World Bank’s Country Manager for Burundi. “Today’s support will build on these activities and focus on the country’s medium-term needs to restore connectivity and preserve previous investments.”
The heavy rainfall caused the bursting of a reservoir on the Gasenyi River created by uncontrolled quarry of material from the riverbed. This triggered a major flash flood and as a result, NR-1 which is the main road connecting Bujumbura to the rest of the country and to its neighbors, was forced to close because of roads and structure collapse at several points. Heavy traffic had to be diverted to secondary roads causing their premature failure due to the fact that they were not designed to support this type and level of traffic. Emergency repair works have been undertaken since day 1 with support from the WB Road Sector Project (P064876) which closed on January 31, 2015. Today’s project will finance the reconstruction or repairing of structures on the major roadway NR-1 and bring it back to acceptable levels of service. Furthermore, it will end diverting traffic to roads that are not suitable for heavy transportation.
The project will also fix with a sustainable approach the flooding risks at Gatunguru, Nyabagere and Kinyankonge through improved and more climate resilient drainage infrastructure, while channeling the Gasenyi River back to its original river bed. Those works will require labor intensive construction which will generate employment for the local population.
To prevent the recurrence of similar events, and to reduce risks related to flooding and landslides, it is essential to strengthen the Government's capacity to manage disasters. The financing approved today will go towards an evaluation and mapping of risks in the project area including their potential impacts on infrastructure as well as the establishment of an early warning and response system in areas prone to landslides.
“The emergency response to the floods will help Burundi’s sustainable recovery and reconstruction by increasing the country’s resilience to natural disasters and to facilitate the implementation of the Government’s priorities of infrastructure development and disaster risk management”, said Noroarisoa Rabefaniraka, Task Team Leader of the Project.
After this week’s heavy downpour in Western Burundi which led to major mud and rock slides, a preliminary estimate of damages is being prepared by the Government, with the support of the National Platform in charge of disaster management, as well as the National Roads Administration. Its findings will provide a better understanding of the scale of the disaster and potential for Bank support.