Yemen: Local Communities Show Commitment For Upgrading of Informal Settlements

News and Press Release
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Press Release No:2010/429/MENA

In Washington:
Hafed Al-Ghwell: (202) 473-8930,

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2010 - The World Bank is providing US$ 22.00 million equivalent for the Yemen Integrated Urban Development project to improve access to basic services in select informal settlements in urban areas in Taiz Governorate, and strengthen dialogue on a national framework for urban upgrading.

The proposed project contributes to the strategic objectives of the recently approved World Bank Urban and Local Government Strategy that emphasizes the scaling up of urban upgrading, from a local to a national scale and improving living conditions in these areas by extending affordable services to informal settlements.

Through this project, the Bank's support will help improve urban management of the cities through an effective approach to basic service delivery for the urban poor in Yemen. Through continuous donor coordination and harmonization, this project "will also build the platform for future donor intervention in urban upgrading of informal settlements in key cities in Yemen as well as complement efforts of other IDA-funded projects like the Urban Water and Sanitation Project, the Social Fund for Development and Public Works Project to maximize leverage and impact," noted Benson Ateng, World Bank Yemen Country Manager.

In Yemen, informal settlements in urban areas are characterized by poor access to basic infrastructure and services like water supply and sewerage, garbage collection and street lighting, environmental degradation, lack of economic and educational opportunities, poor health care, and lack of security of land tenure. Taiz is one of the cities that are most severely affected by the rapid growth of informal settlements. Nearly 70 percent of the total residential built-up area of Taiz is informal and the vast majority of residential development since the 1980s has taken place informally.

It is worth noting that the World Bank's lending for urban development over the last twenty years focused largely on flood protection works in Taiz and has been very successful. Taiz governorate also benefited from a number of urban water supply projects. In addition, the success of several Public Works Projects to mitigate the adverse effects of structural adjustment through support for labor intensive infrastructure to create employment in both rural and urban areas has attracted significant donor funding for Yemen.

The Bank has a comparative advantage in supporting a well targeted, and poverty-focused, integrated urban upgrading intervention in Yemen, given its substantial experience all over the world for over thirty years. The integrated approach to upgrading of public infrastructure in selected settlements in Taiz, including road and pedestrian ways, water, drainage and sewage systems, and street lighting touches the basic needs and necessities of people's livelihoods. This project thus builds on "the successful experiences of previous Bank projects with a specific focus on deepening the engagement at the local Government level to improve the living conditions of the urban poor," said Madhu Raghunath, World Bank Task Team Leader and Urban Specialist.

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