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World Bank approves US$50 million for disaster management, road repairs 

The Ministry of Finance and the World Bank on Tuesday signed a Financing Agreement of US$50 million extending support to the ongoing Lao PDR Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Management Project and Lao Road Sector Project II.
Deputy Minister of Finance Mr Bounchom Ubonpaseuth and the World Bank’s Country Manager for the Lao PDR Mr Nicola Pontara signed the agreement, witnessed by Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Viengsavath Siphandone and other government officials.

According to a media release, the additional financing, endorsed by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on December 13, 2019, will support efforts to strengthen climate resilience in the waterways and road sectors.
A total of US$25 million will improve the capacity of the Lao government to better prepare for and withstand natural disasters in waterways.
Another amount of US$25 million will support repairs to damaged roads and the resilience of road infrastructure.
The World Bank’s Senior Infrastructure Specialist, who is also project team leader for the Disaster Risk Management Project, Mr Henrike Brecht, said the World Bank’s funding will not only bring innovative solutions for restoring riverbank protection and urban wetlands but also promote risk-informed planning and disaster preparedness in the flood-prone provinces of Oudomxay, Luang Prabang and Borikhamxay.
Meanwhile the World Bank’s Senior Infrastructure Specialist and project team leader for the Road Sector Project II, Mr Sombath Southivong, said the financing will improve climate resilience of national road 13 South in Borikhamxay including raising the road profile in flood-prone sections, improving drainage, and applying bio-engineering solutions to protect road slopes. It will also improve road safety.
In 2018, Laos suffered its most costly floods in a decade. Heavy rains from two tropical cyclones affected the country and a saddle dam in Attapeu province collapsed, causing flash floods. The floods impacted more than 600,000 citizens, resulting in 64 deaths.
The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment estimated total damages and losses of US$371.5 million, equivalent to 2.1 percent of Laos’ Gross Domestic Product in 2018.
The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, provides grants and low- to zero-interest loans to the world’s poorest countries for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. Projects such as these aim to support poor communities who have limited capacity to cope and often bear the brunt of the impacts of natural disasters.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update January 29, 2020)

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