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Haiti to receive $30 million IDB grant to limit flooding, erosion in watersheds

Haiti will obtain a $30 million grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to finance anti-flooding works in three critical watersheds and promote sustainable agriculture development.

The IDB-financed project will support public works in an area equivalent to 6 percent of the Haitian territory, benefiting 360,000 residents of the <?xml:namespace prefix = st2 />Grande Rivière du Nord, Ravine du Sud and Cavaillon watersheds. The works seek to limit torrential flows and protect infrastructure and property exposed to flooding or landslides.

The project will also offer direct support for sustainable agriculture in the watersheds. Haiti will provide grants for eligible legally recognized producer groups or independent farmers in the most vulnerable parts of the watersheds, who agree to adopt erosion control farming practices. In addition, the grant will finance technical assistance, training, and materials for eight municipalities and entities in charge of planning watershed management, with the goal of diminishing the impact of natural disasters in the country.

"Works financed by the grant are intended to reduce the intensity of floods by as much as 20 percent in the three watersheds and increase permanent plant covering by 20 percent," according to Gilles Damais, the IDB project team leader.

The grant is part of increased efforts by the Haitian government and the IDB to reduce the impact of recurring natural threats on the population and key infrastructure in highly vulnerable watersheds.  With the IDB support, the Haitian government is also working to implement a national flood early-warning program to cover the country’s 13 largest watersheds. Equipment delivery and training for local communities in flood management are about to begin in the southeast and south of the country, and the system as a whole should be up and running in December 2010.

The IDB has allotted $122 million in grants for Haiti this year and another $128 million for 2010 to help the country make investments in key sectors such as infrastructure, basic services and disaster prevention.