The World Bank approves $131 million to improve Haiti’s infrastructure and resilience to disaster

New Delhi :The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a grant financing of US$120 million for the Haiti Resilient Connectivity and Urban Transport Accessibility Project. The Board also approved additional financing of US$11 million for the Haiti Strengthening Disaster Risk Management and Climate Resilience Project. The infrastructure grant will enhance rural connectivity in the South peninsula and improve climate-resilient urban mobility in Cap-Haïtien, while strengthening institutional capacity in the urban transport sector. The Disaster Management Risk project will increase the emergency response and evacuation capacity of selected municipalities in high climate risk-prone areas.

“The combined effects of exposure to seismic risk and extreme weather events, and high level of environmental degradation, are key drivers of fragility, partly responsible for reversing the meager socio-economic progress of the last decade,” said Laurent Msellati, World Bank Country Manager for Haiti. “Supporting disaster risk management and investing in resilient roads infrastructure is essential to leverage the country post-earthquake reconstruction and contribute to eliminating extreme poverty and achieve sustainable inclusive growth.”

Urban transport in Haiti is a major limiting factor for access to economic activities, development and economic growth. Congestion levels are severe in several major cities mainly due to a combination of the poor conditions of road infrastructure, suboptimal use of public street space, frequent climate-induced related disruptions and an unregulated public transport system which contribute to constrains accessibility and creates long travel times.

At the same time, while recent efforts to improve the road network increased intercity connectivity, 50 percent of the national territory remains poorly connected, and some regions are totally isolated for days during the rainy season which often comes with major storms and hurricanes. Transport infrastructure in the South Peninsula has suffered the impacts of frequent and severe climate change events. The recent earthquake of August 2021 damaged more than 850 km of primary and secondary roads in the southern region, resulting in damages to the transport sector of up to US$160 million and leaving more than 450,000 people isolated.

The Resilient Connectivity and Urban Transport Accessibility Project aims to strengthen the overall resilience of the road network in the South Peninsula by financing road improvements and institutional activities to improve climate resilience. It will improve mobility along selected corridors in Cap-Haïtien through a low-carbon urban mobility model by expanding conditions for safe non-motorized mobility, strengthening urban infrastructure resilience to climate change and extreme weather events, and improving operations of the public transport system. The project will also support the modernization and professionalization of public transport services in the targeted regions.

As climate change is expected to increase the frequency, intensity, and impacts of extreme weather events, an effective early warning system to warn citizens to prepare and be ready to evacuate when extreme weather events hit, could reduce the impact of these shocks. Between 1972 and 2022, Haiti has been hit by more than 110 disasters, and the upcoming hurricane season in the Caribbean region is predicted to be above average with likely 14 to 21 named storms including 3 to 6 major hurricanes.

The additional financing of the Haiti Strengthening Disaster Risk Management and Climate Resilience Project will replenish the financing gap caused by the reallocation of fund to support post-earthquake emergency response. It will ensure funding for the implementation of critical activities such as enhancing the General Directorate of Civil Protection’s response capacity to future disasters and the construction of emergency shelters to help protect communities in the aftermath of disaster.

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