El Salvador’s ability to confront disasters boosted

23 Apr 19

The World Bank has recognised the important role local authorities in El Salvador can play in withstanding the natural disasters that plague the country.

The Washington-based bank is allocating $200m to improve how municipalities finance “resilient” investments and boost the access of citizens to services and infrastructure that can cope with extreme weather.

The Local Economic Resilience Project will benefit about 4.5 million Salvadoreans in all of the country’s 262 municipalities.

“A priority for the government of El Salvador is supporting municipalities to strengthen their financial management with efficiency and transparency and to make investments that meet environmental and disaster risk management standards,” said Nelson Fuentes, minister of finance of El Salvador.

“This is an investment legacy that will directly benefit communities in all 262 municipalities.”

According to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, El Salvador is exposed to a large variety of natural hazards and is located in one of the most seismically active regions of the world.

The annual average loss from earthquakes is nearly $176m or 0.7% of GDP, and major hazards include floods, landslides, tropical storms, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and droughts – particularly as a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

The World Bank project will be implemented by El Salvador’s Social Investment Fund for Local Development and aims to improve municipal capacity to design and manage infrastructure assets in a resilient manner.

It will seek to boost local economic development by aligning public finance management goals and results with the way in which municipalities finance resilient investments, while also supporting efforts to strengthen institutional capacity and improve services.

A competitive fund aims to foster inter-municipal cooperation and create job opportunities – especially for women, youths, migrant returnees and minorities.

Oscar Avalle, World Bank Country Manager for El Salvador and Costa Rica, said: “Investments to promote economic development and resilience can generate new jobs and new economic opportunities at the municipal level, which help in reducing unemployment, crime and migration, especially of the youth.

“Enhancing the municipalities’ performance, transparency and capacities will lead to sustainable investments and better livelihoods for Salvadoreans, primarily the poor and vulnerable.”

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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