Region must increase investment to lower flood risk - Eclac

Friday, November 4, 2011

Central American countries need to increase investments to help mitigate the risk of flooding in the region, which is one of the most vulnerable to climate change, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac) said in a study.

"In addition to facing emergencies, countries must improve their risk management policies, together with their national development strategies," said Eclac executive secretary Alicia Bárcena.

The governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua commissioned Eclac to carry out a series of studies to determine the impact that tropical depression 12E had on their economies.

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The first study estimates that the tropical depression caused US$840mn in material and economic losses for the Salvadorian economy, or close to 4% of the country's GDP, the regional UN office said in a release.

Around 70% of the country was impacted by 10 days of uninterrupted rain in October. Infrastructure in Sonsonate department was the most heavily affected, with the damage worth an estimated US$75mn, the release added.

According to estimates from Eclac and the Salvadorian government, some US$575mn will be needed for reconstruction efforts in the affected areas up to 2015.

The studies are being carried out with the support of IDB, the World Bank and the UN Development Program (UNDP).

The remaining four studies will be presented at the Central American summit on December 16.