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IDB confirms strong support for Barbados and announces new Country Strategy

 

The Board of Executive Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank announced today the approval of the Country Strategy with Barbados for 2009-2013, affirming the IDB’s commitment to partner with the Government of Barbados on some of the country’s most important development priorities.

 

Sovereign-guaranteed lending is expected to be around $200 million over the five-year period and net cash flows from the Bank to Barbados are also expected to be positive in all years.

 

The four priority sectors in the new strategy are coastal zone management and climate change adaptation, water and sanitation, energy, and education.

 

“The IDB Strategy with Barbados will help the Government address the country’s needs by supporting institutional strengthening, policy reforms and infrastructure investments in key sectors of the economy,” said IDB Representative in Barbados, Anneke Jessen. “All four priority areas are critical for the competitiveness of the Barbadian economy. Competitiveness was the central theme of the previous country strategy and remains an important objective for the country.”

 

The new strategy seeks to strengthen the public sector’s capacity to manage coastal risk factors such as erosion, flooding, reef degradation and natural disasters, and to improve the viability and efficiency of the Barbados Water Authority. Other expected results of the strategy include a new policy framework to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy in Barbados, improved delivery of technical and vocational training programs and higher student academic performance in core subjects.

 

“In the past two years, the IDB has significantly strengthened its presence in Barbados, adding staff and expertise in the Country Office and renewing its commitment to the country through a growing portfolio”, explained Ms. Jessen.

 

The IDB’s current portfolio in Barbados totals US$140 million and covers four main areas: coastal infrastructure, education, housing and public sector modernization. Recent projects include co-financing of the popular Rockley and Holetown boardwalks, as well as support to EDUTECH and to the government’s housing initiatives. Public sector modernization programs focus on areas such as justice, standards and statistics, as well as government procurement and revenue collection.

 

Among the new priorities, the focus on coastal zone management and climate change adaptation is key to the tourism industry. The IDB will support the government’s efforts to build resilience to coastal risks by strengthening coordination across the different sectors that influence the health of the coastal zone, including water and sanitation, construction and agriculture; improving mechanisms to assess and manage risks, through better data collection and cost recovery; improving disaster risk prevention; and developing a program of shoreline stabilization and marine zoning.

 

While climate change adaptation is explicitly recognized as a goal in future IDB support to the coastal infrastructure sector, it is also an underlying objective in the water sector, where rising sea levels threaten to increase saltwater intrusion into groundwater supplies, and in the energy sector, where the focus is on clean energy and energy conservation.

 

In the area of water and sanitation, the IDB will support government efforts to achieve more efficient water supply and resource management by focusing on improving the operational efficiency of the Barbados Water Authority and its program to reduce production costs and water losses, as well as preparing a comprehensive wastewater treatment action plan. A large water and sanitation systems upgrade program is expected to be approved before the end of the year.

 

In the area of energy, the IDB will support the government in defining a new sector strategy aimed at promoting clean energy and using energy more efficiently. The Bank already approved several grant projects this year to help assess the country’s current energy balance, explore its renewable and bioenergy potential, and develop energy efficiency policies for the public and private sector, including the island’s hotel industry. 

 

In education, IDB lending and technical assistance will enhance planning and data collection; improve the quality of primary and secondary education; and promote stronger links between the education system and the labor market, strengthening school-to-work transition through technical and vocational training;

 

Other projects in the pipeline, expected to be approved before the end of this year, include agricultural health and food safety and a competitiveness program to support key business climate reforms, improve transportation, logistics and trade facilitation, and strengthen the private sector’s capacity to compete in a more open trading environment. The IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) is already actively supporting small and medium-sized businesses in a number of areas.

 

The IDB, the main source of multilateral lending for Latin America and the Caribbean, celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and has been supporting Barbados since the country became a borrowing member in 1969.  

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