IDB approves $50 million soft loan to Haiti for urban rehabilitation

Program to improve quality of life and access to government services in nine departmental capitals and in the Port-au-Prince commune of Carrefour

A $50 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank will finance an urban rehabilitation program to help improve living standards and access to government services in Haiti's nine departmental capitals and in the Port-au-Prince commune of Carrefour.

The program will build administrative and service civic centers in all the participating urban areas to house different government offices under a single roof. In densely populated Carrefour it will also improve access to water and social services, trash collection and public markets, as well as ease traffic congestion and create public parks.

"The program's components address pressing priorities for urban areas in Haiti, such as rehabilitating public infrastructure, promoting economic activity and delivering essential services," said IDB project team leader Martha Preece. "The main goal is to start what will be a long process of recovery from decades of neglect. In addition, it will strengthen the presence of the state in cities across the country."

While no single operation will solve Haiti's plight, Preece added, the new program is part of a broad strategy supported by the international community to help Haitians revive their economy, revamp their public sector and restore and improve social services.

The urban rehabilitation program will specifically complement other recently approved IDB loans as well as ongoing projects involving transportation infrastructure, job training, local development and economic governance.

The new program draws from lessons learned from IDB-financed urban renewal projects in several Latin American countries. During the design phase it also benefited from technical advice provided by a Canadian consulting firm with extensive experience in urban planning in Haiti.

Commune of Carrefour

With a population that has tripled to 600,000 in the past two decades along a short stretch of the RN-2 national highway, Carrefour links the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince with the Grand' Anse, South and Southeast departments.

In this traffic-choked urban commune without cross streets or public parks the program will finance various projects aimed at improving the quality of life of its inhabitants, using a combination of strategic investments in infrastructure and services.

Four public markets will be built to replace some of Carrefour's rundown retail facilities, which are plagued by overcrowding, insufficient maintenance, the accumulation of waste and the lack of running water and restrooms. The new markets will be managed by their occupants and supervised by the commune.

Five public water sources fed by artesian wells will be installed at strategic points in or near the four public markets. The sources, which will include public toilets and clothes washing facilities, will be operated by user associations, a system that has proven to work in Haiti.

Trash collection will be reorganized by placing large dumpsters in areas that generate great amounts of solid waste and small bins along the main roads. The metropolitan trash collection service will be reinforced with extra trucks.

A new complex in central Carrefour will house the offices of a dozen government agencies and public enterprises that are currently in leased buildings widely separated throughout the area. The center, which will be equipped with generators and water tanks and wired for information and communication systems, will have additional services such as bank branches and restaurants.

Three cultural and recreational centers will be built and equipped near the public markets, providing residents access to libraries, video collections and multipurpose rooms. Five public parks will be opened on vacant land on the seaside and other smaller lots to create green areas and sports playing fields.

The program will also finance the construction of a shelter for girls and teenagers, targeting those doing unpaid housework, street children and sexually exploited minors, who will receive health care services including education and treatment for HIV/AIDS and venereal diseases.

Carrefour's collector roads will be improved in order to ease traffic congestion and provide greater access for trash collection trucks and public transportation.

Departmental Capitals

The program will also finance the construction and equipment of administrative and service centers in Cap Haïtien (North), Cayes (South), Fort-de-Liberté (Northeast), Gonaïves (Artibonite), Hinche (Central Plateau), Jacmel (Southeast), Jérémie (La Grand' Anse), Miragoâne (Nippes) and Port-de-Paix (Northwest).

Cultural and community services will also be provided at the centers, including public libraries and youth activities and games. The buildings will be equipped with electricity generators, water tanks and wells.

These investments are expected to improve the access to administrative and social services for the growing population of Haiti's departmental capital cities as well as to save money currently spent on renting office space.

Program Execution

The program will be carried out by a technical executing unit within the Office of the Prime Minister, which will coordinate the efforts of the government agencies, public sector enterprises and institutions that will be involved in the various components.

In order to ensure quality and continuity through the program's completion, a project management firm will be hired to support the technical execution unit.

Resources will be earmarked to cover operation and maintenance costs of the common areas of administrative and cultural centers, the shelter for girls and the recreational facilities during the first two years of operations.

The program will also finance technical assistance and training for the national and municipal providers of government services and for the groups that will manage the public markets and the water sources in Carrefour.

The loan is for 40 years, with a 10-year grace period, and an annual interest rate of 1 percent during the first decade and 2 percent thereafter.

IDB support for Haiti

The Inter-American Development Bank has the largest portfolio of loans in execution in Haiti. Including the new one, it holds $430 million to finance programs in sectors such as basic infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, water and sanitation, primary education, job training, community development and small productive projects on a national scale. It is also supporting public finance and economic governance reforms.

Other loans totaling $150 million are in advanced stages of preparation for rural development, environmental management, flood prevention and access to credit for small and medium-size enterprises.

In order to speed up program execution and disbursements, the IDB has streamlined its procedures, increased its flexibility and strengthened its Port-au-Prince office to better respond to Haiti's evolving needs.

The IDB coordinates its activities closely with other donors and multilateral institutions to support the priorities of Haiti's Interim Cooperation Framework, which include economic recovery, the improvement of basic services and the transition to a new, democratically elected administration.