The FINANCIAL -- The quality of life of the more than 30 million Colombians
living in the largest urban areas will improve through a new US$150
million loan, approved today by the World Bank Board of Directors.
As the World Bank reported, the program seeks to increase productivity and sustainability in Colombian cities.
This loan is the first of two Development Policy Loans (DPL) designed to support the Colombian administration's budget program in this area. The second loan is tentatively scheduled for 2015.
The new initiative falls under the framework of the urban policy priorities set by the National Development Plan and, more specifically, within the Misión Ciudades (Cities Mission) initiative. By way of this initiative, the National Government seeks to address the main structural challenges facing the country's urban development.
Financing will support development activities in the following areas:
Increasing opportunities for underprivileged residents, including access to housing.
Improvements to water and sanitation services, urban transportation and environmental services geared toward lower income groups living in urban areas.
Strengthening sub-national agencies' capacities in order to coordinate and finance the organization and implementation of regional and metropolitan initiatives.
Increasing city-level productivity through improved connectivity with ports, thus improving access to international markets.
Nowadays, three fourths of Colombia's population, the equivalent of 34.5 million people, live in urban areas. Bogota, the country's capital, is one of the most densely populated cities in the Western hemisphere with close to eight million inhabitants.
In recent decades, cities have been Colombia's growth engines and improvements in the quality of life are directly associated with urbanization. However, this same urbanization generates enormous challenges that demand innovative solutions.
“Colombia has taken a vital step in finding solutions to bring about more efficient cities, capable of growing at their maximum potential while, at the same time, representing true sustainable engines of growth for the country,” said Gloria M. Grandolini, World Bank Director for Mexico and Colombia.
Some of the challenges faced by the Colombian Government in terms of urban development include congestion, mobility, disaster risk management, urban environment protection, housing and basic services, as well as the re-urbanization of cities.
In order to support the efforts of the Juan Manuel Santos administration in this area, the World Bank offers a wide spectrum of knowledge services, including policy studies and analyses, as well as strong financial services and convening programs that complement this operation to provide comprehensive support for this initiative.
The Finance and Public Credit Ministry and the National Planning Department will be responsible for coordinating and executing the program. This is a US dollar-denominated loan with an 18 year maturity and 17.5 year grace period.