Algeria gets credit to protect urban poor

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afrol News, 14 August - A US$ 89 million World Bank loan is set to reduce the impact of natural disasters on urban poor in Algeria. Especially in the capital, Algiers, the urban poor have been victims to a range of disasters, ranging from floods to earthquakes. 

Last November, severe rains caused lethal floods and mud-flows which snuffed out the lives of 800 people - 95 percent of whom lived in Algiers. The destruction of private and public property was valued in excess of US$ 400 million. The damage to people's homes was the most serious, accounting for 33 percent of the total damage, followed by losses to rain water sewage systems, public infrastructure such as roads, bridges and ports, and agricultural facilities.

Home to three million people, Algiers is prone to flash flooding, land and mudslides, and earthquakes. This vulnerability has incurred financial, social and economic losses on the poor, and diverted financial resources from conventional development efforts to recovery and construction.

Last week, the World Bank approved an US$ 89 million loan to reduce this vulnerability of Algeria's urban population to floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The project will seek to boost the country's ability to respond to and manage situations of natural disasters and introduce long-term preventative measures.

The four-year project falls in line with the Bank's interim country assistance strategy for Algeria, which focuses on fighting poverty by tackling the problems of low-income housing, the substandard construction of homes, water and unemployment in urban centres.

The project is to "prepare the government in responding to natural disasters by training personnel in national agencies for civil protection and meteorology, and water resource management," a World Bank statement reads. 

Another component was to aid the government in purchasing equipment for search and rescue operations and medical evacuations. A third component of the project is to finance emergency reconstruction such as new housing for those who lost their homes to floods last year, water works and reforestation to stabilize soil and limit erosion.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), an arm of the World Bank that provides loans and technical assistance to middle-income countries, will issue the US$ 89 million loan on standard terms. The government of Algeria is contributing US$ 36 million and will play a lead role in managing the project.

In the last 20 years, the World Bank has provided approximately US$ 8 billion in loans worldwide for post-disaster reconstruction, the bank says.

Sources: Based on World Bank and afrol archives

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