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IDB sends disaster aid to Venezuela

The IDB is preparing a series of emergency loans to help Venezuela rebuild after the devastation caused by flooding last December which left an estimated 30,000 dead or missing and up to 400,000 homeless.

The new credits will help finance rehabilitation and reconstruction, particularly of physical infrastructure, along with environmental safeguards and social assistance, for persons made homeless by the flooding and mudslides.

A 10-person IDB team traveled to Venezuela a week after the catastrophe occurred to consult with authorities and assess the extent of the damage and the country’s needs. Bank officials are now working with the Venezuelan government to design loans to meet the country’s most pressing relief and reconstruction needs.

The IDB has already provided a $50,000 grant to help Venezuela meet initial emergency expenses and will soon disburse a $20 million loan for that purpose. It is also redirecting $120 million in resources from existing IDB loans to Venezuela to address immediate needs, particularly in the areas of health, education, rural roads and infrastructure. Finally, Bank officials are preparing an additional loan, whose size has not yet been determined, to assist in long-term reconstruction efforts.

As of late December, Venezuela had received a total of $35 million in cash and in-kind donations for disaster relief, according to government sources. A National Emergency Committee within the Ministry of Health has been coordinating the distribution of drinking water, food, blankets, medicine and other supplies. Some 286 “collective centers” have been set up, mainly in school buildings, to temporarily house people made homeless by the floods. Government officials have also taken measures to prevent the reconstruction of houses and other buildings on land known to be at high risk of future flooding and landslides.

Relief efforts have been hampered by continuing rains and flooding and by damaged bridges and roads. Among the most pressing short-term challenges is the construction of housing in safe areas for thousands of homeless families. Numerous public and private agencies are also working to reunite separated families and track down missing individuals.


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