The World Bank (WB) Board of Executive Directors approved US$200 million in financing today to strengthen Bolivia’s legal and institutional framework for the comprehensive management of disaster and climate risks. Fifty percent of these funds come from the International Development Association (IDA), under concessionary conditions, while the rest is provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). For the first time in 10 years, Bolivia is eligible for this type of public policy financing, normally reserved for medium income countries.
Bolivia has been frequently impacted by natural disasters such as floods and droughts, with significant social and economic costs. Since the early 2000s, disaster risk management has been a priority for Bolivia’s development agenda.
The Minister of Development Planning, Rene Orellana, said: “Since 2006, Bolivia is undergoing a Process of Change and it is the government of President Evo Morales who, like no other, has promoted respect for the rights of Mother Earth. In this context, the support offered by the World Bank enables the development of Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) activities, projects and programs and planning for comprehensive development; in this way, different government levels can strengthen their capacity for resilience, manage climate change impacts and extreme events.”
The population, mainly the rural one, is highly vulnerable to adverse natural events; the 2009 Constitution thus promotes the inclusion of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation into development planning at the sectorial and territorial levels.
“Government actions geared towards a fast response and flood recovery, especially in recent years, demonstrate that Bolivia’s disaster response capacity has increased,” said Alberto Rodriguez, World Bank Director for Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. “There is still vulnerability in many areas. The challenge therefore is to include risk management into planning and public investment and to build capacities to respond better to disasters at all territorial levels. The World Bank is a strong ally in this important task.”
Following the profound impact of the early-2014 floods, which led to 50 deaths, 411,500 victims, and damages amounting to approximately US$384 million in Beni, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Potosi and La Paz departments, the Government of the Pluri-National State of Bolivia prepared the Patuju Plan, a comprehensive blueprint for reconstruction and recovery aimed at helping the areas affected by these disasters, including prevention and risk reduction measures.
The project supports Bolivia’s efforts to strengthen its legal and institutional mechanisms to deal with climate-related natural disasters. Foremost among them is the Disaster Risk Management Law, approved on November 14th. The program will help with the implementation of the new regulation, prioritizing three components: strengthening disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation; improving institutional coordination for emergency management and response and; reducing the fiscal impact and increasing Bolivia’s financial capacity to respond to disasters.
Bolivia is highly vulnerable to climate change; the accelerated melting of glaciers is a clear example. Climate change adaptation activities aim at helping the population, and for economies to maintain their level of well-being under systematically changing conditions. The World Bank has played a prominent role in recent years with financial support and technical assistance to different sectors, becoming an important partner for Bolivia.
The Program will be carried out until mid-2016. The IDA loan has a 25-year maturity period and a 5-year grace period; while the IBRD loan has a 20-year maturity period and a 19.5-year grace period.