Authorities look to approve WB flood prevention project in 1Q07

Monday, November 27, 2006

The World Bank (WB) has already approved a US$70mn loan to carry out a US$91.6mn flood prevention and drainage project in Argentina and authorities in the country could rubber-stamp the plan in the first quarter of next year, one of the Argentine officials directing the project told BNamericas.

"The first stage has been passed, which is the approval of the World Bank, and we are in the administrative process of putting [the project] into action, which we estimate could be in the first quarter of next year," the official said.

"We suppose that if [the loan] is signed in the first quarter, in the first half of the year we would be prepared to disburse [the funds]," he said, adding that the provincial and federal governments would be providing the remaining money for the project.

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The urban flood prevention and drainage project is designed to help reduce vulnerability to flooding through a mix of structural and non-structural measures, according to the abstract on the WB website.

The project includes providing provincial institutions with flood risk management instruments that can assist with the implementation of specific institutional development activities.

There are also plans to provide housing in safe areas for those families that may be resettled from the lands required for the works as well as for lower income families living in flood-prone areas.

Works will also be financed to protect important urban areas against floods, involving minor rehabilitation of existing schemes and fortification of flood defenses in geographic areas with strong economic activity and the greatest vulnerability to serious repeated flood damage.

The objectives include development of measures to reduce risks for the public living in flood-prone areas and directing development towards zones of lower risk, as well as creating incentives to develop an urban environmental program mitigating flood risks.

The project targets five provinces: Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Misiones and Santa Fe, which include some of the areas most exposed to flooding in Argentina. Formosa province was originally included, but finally decided not to participate.