WASHINGTON, March 22, 2000 - The World Bank announced today a $225 million emergency loan to support reconstruction of Colombia's coffee-growing region, struck by an earthquake in January 1999 that left 1,185 dead and over 150,000 homeless. The loan, approved yesterday by the Bank's board, supplements the $93.2 million from existing projects reallocated to reconstruction works last August. It will benefit more than 560,000 individuals who sustained losses as a result of the earthquake, particularly the poorest groups.
"Our main objective is to help Colombians get their lives back on track by restoring housing and basic infrastructure," said Alberto Chueca, the World Bank's Resident Representative in Colombia. "As most earthquake victims belong to the poorest segments of the population, the emergency loan will be channeled directly to those who are worst off."
The Coffee-Growing Region, an area of 525 square miles extending over the Departments of Caldas, Quindío, Risaralda, Tolima, and Valle de Cauca, was hit by a devastating earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale on January 25, 1999.
The emergency loan will provide resources for repair or total reconstruction of approximately 80,000 dwellings through government subsidies to both owners and renters, reconstruction or repair of schools, hospitals, and community centers, rehabilitation of public infrastructure such as water supply, drainage, and transportation systems, and environmental protection.
"This is a comprehensive project designed to jump start the life and economic activity of the population affected by the earthquake," said Andrés Solimano, World Bank Executive Director for Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. "The objective is to rebuild not only infrastructure but also the links that bind communities together, helping them to help themselves."
Under a community participatory framework, local NGOs are playing a fundamental role in the project, from damage assessment to managing resources and advising those affected on adequate housing solutions.
In addition, the Earthquake Recovery Project will support the establishment of disaster prevention, mitigation, and control plans, and the economic resurgence of affected communities.
The proceeds of the emergency loan will be administered by the Fund for the Reconstruction and Social Development of the Coffee-Growing Region. The Inter-American Development Bank has provided an additional $20 million in emergency assistance, over and above $133.7 million in reallocated loans to fund reconstruction efforts.
The $225 million single-currency fixed-margin loan will have a duration of 17 years including a five-year grace period.
For more information on the World Bank's work in the Latin American and Caribbean Region, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/lac/
Alejandra Viveros (202) 473-4306
Lee Morrison (202)-458-8741