World Bank to help rebuild Haiti’s infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA: As rescue efforts following last week’s earthquake in Haiti continue, World Bank experts are making preparations to rebuild the nation’s economy and infrastructure.

Bank specialists will join a multilateral team – including staff from the United Nations and the Inter-American Development Bank – that will go to Haiti in the next few weeks to conduct damage and reconstruction assessments in every major sector, including health, education, water, sanitation, electricity and roads.

The group of specialists will likely arrive in Haiti shortly after the relief efforts are completed.

Heading the Bank’s team is natural disaster expert Francis Ghesquiere who said that once on site, “the assessments are done as fast as possible so the recovery operation can start and relief can be provided to the population as fast as possible”.

“Hopefully, within a month there will be a full assessment of the situation,” said Ghesquiere. “As we go about the reconstruction of Haiti, we will have to make sure the infrastructure that is rebuilt is resistant to earthquakes, but also to hurricanes and other hazards.”

Ghesquiere said it is crucial to involve Haitians in rebuilding efforts and the World Bank team will “support the Haitians themselves to take charge of the reconstruction and get back on their feet”.

Damage to the capital city of Port-au-Prince after the 7.0-magnitude quake has been “catastrophic,” according to government officials and relief agencies.

In addition to the presidential palace and the United Nations headquarters, the earthquake toppled or seriously damaged many of the major buildings of Port-au-Prince, including the Parliament, the Cathedral, the Ministries of Economy and Finance and Public Works, the Tax Office, as well as a large number of schools and homes.

Preliminary World Bank estimates suggest that the cost of the disaster will certainly surpass the losses caused by hurricanes in 2008, estimated at 15 per cent of Haiti’s gross domestic product.

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