In the six months since the devastating January 12 earthquake, the Inter-American Development Bank has mobilized an unprecedented amount of resources to help Haiti in its efforts to recover from the worst natural disaster ever to strike a country.



By Peter Bate



For decades, Rio de Janeiro’s slums appeared as blank areas on city maps. At best, these favelas, which house nearly one-fifth of the city’s inhabitants, were ignored by residents of richer neighborhoods and abandoned by local authorities. At worst, the favelas were vilified as social pockmarks that marred one of the world’s most beautiful urban settings—scars that had to be removed, by force if necessary.

In Latin America, water is more tightly linked to human potential and economic competitiveness than in any other part of the world. The region has roughly 31 percent of the planet´s freshwater resources, while holding only 8 percent of its population. This huge water advantage enables Latin America to get a 68 percent of all its electricity from hydroelectric sources, compared to a global average of less than 16 percent.

Macroeconomic stability, democracy and private sector participation are all part of the development process of Latin America and the Caribbean, but a broader issue analyzed recently by governmental authorities, economists and researchers is decentralization. During the International Forum on Decentralization for Local Economic Development, held on July 9-10 at IDB headquarters, high-ranking officials from national and subnational governments, recognized academics and economists from the international agencies, explored new ideas to find solutions for the development challenges in this field.

It was the most destructive natural disaster in Colombia’s history.

On Jan. 25, 1999, two earthquakes, measuring 6.2 and 5.8 on the Richter Scale, destroyed more than 100,000 buildings in 28 municipalities in the heart of Colombia’s economically strategic coffee-producing region, killing 1,185 persons and leaving more than 550,000 homeless in a 1,360-square-kilometer mountainous region that lies between the Pacific Ocean and Bogotá.

For almost half a century, Canada has been a strong partner of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). It joined the IDB, the world’s oldest and largest regional development bank, in 1972. Yet Canada has been an IDB partner for much longer, first engaging the Bank in 1964 by creating the Canadian Fund with the equivalent of $47.2 million to support investments in physical infrastructure.

In Vila Castelo, a small town in the Brazilian state of Pará, fisherwomen are learning the ropes of fiscal management and entrepreneurship 

Traditional fishing does not differ much today from what it has been since biblical times—a boat, a net, and a few men. Wait. Men? Maybe it has changed after all. At least in Vila Castelo, a tiny fishing village in Brazil’s state of Pará, women fish alongside men. 

In the Colombian town of Apartadó, women are shaping a new beginning after years of violence

Bullets, poverty, and unemployment have taken a big toll on many locations in Colombia. 

Take Apartadó, for example—a 167,000 people municipality in northwestern Colombia ravaged by a fierce, decades-old guerrilla war that has forced a large portion of its population to leave. Fully 60 percent of those who have chosen to stay barely scrape a living below the poverty line. 

The sevenfold increase in tourism in Costa Rica over the past 25 years has brought with it the challenge to improve the country’s major airport to comfortably accommodate that influx. Costa Rica has stepped up to that challenge by transforming the Juan Santamaría International Airport into one of the best airports in Latin America and the Caribbean.

A decade ago, the only way to transport goods from the Port of Callao in Lima to the northern part of Peru was on the 183-kilometer Ancón-Huacho-Pativilca road system, a maze of narrow two-lane roads through a series of densely populated areas. For trucks transporting cargo the countless traffic jams cost precious time and money. For the local populations, the costs were felt in terms of congestion, noise and road safety.