The FINANCIAL — The Government of India, the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the World Bank on July 16 signed a $250 million credit agreement for the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project to restore, improve and enhance the resilience of public services and livelihoods of communities affected by cyclone Hudhud in Andhra Pradesh. The Project will also increase the capacity of the state to respond promptly and effectively to an emergency.
The project will specifically benefit over 13 million people in the four severely affected districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari, according to the World Bank.
The agreement for the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project was signed by Selva Kumar, Acting Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; J C Sharma, Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, (Land and Disaster Management), on behalf of the Government of Andhra Pradesh; and Onno Ruhl, Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank.
Andhra Pradesh is one of the most natural hazard prone states in India because of its long coastline and geographical location. About 44 percent of the state is vulnerable to tropical storms and related hazards. Out of the total coastal length of about 974 km, about 440 km faces coastal erosion.
In October last year, a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS) ‘Hudhud’ made landfall on the coast of Andhra Pradesh, near the city of Visakhapatnam. The Government of Andhra Pradesh was proactive and managed to evacuate close to 250,000 persons living in low-lying areas and helped limit the death toll from the cyclone to 61. However, it caused major damage in 26 cities and towns, in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, and East Godavari districts, and affected about 9.2 million persons including 3 million urban population.
Through the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project, the state will restore the damages caused to roads; public infrastructure including environmental services and facilities; and increase the resilience of the power infrastructure as well as that of its communities from impacts of future disasters.
“The coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh are highly vulnerable to natural disasters that can push millions into poverty. Apart from reconstructing public infrastructure, the Project will help the state be better prepared for the future by strengthening its disaster response system,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India. “This increasing focus towards future oriented risk mitigation programs by India is a welcome step which will ultimately benefit millions of people vulnerable to natural disasters.”
In order to reduce the vulnerability of Visakhapatnam’s electrical network, the Project will lay the power distribution system underground. About 700 km of 33kV, 11kV and 415 volts network lines will be converted to underground cable network. About 800 km of rural roads and 250 km of major district roads will be rehabilitated. Old cyclone shelters will be repaired with friendly design features for the elderly, women, and children. Investments will be made along the beachfront of the city of Visakhapatnam, which would include pedestrian walkways, street lighting, public toilets, landscaping and for its protection from erosion.
The Project will also help reconstruct the severely damaged zoological park at Visakhapatnam and ecological park at Kambalakonda. It will assist in restoring the lost shelterbelts, windbreaks and mangroves along the coast and support livelihoods opportunities of poor vulnerable coastal families by building nurseries that would supply saplings for farm forestry.
A broad range of investments will be made in strengthening the state’s disaster response systems through better search and rescue equipment, wireless communication, and mock drills and awareness programs in schools and villages.
“While reconstruction is a key component, a strong disaster response mechanism will play a crucial role in not only saving lives and livelihoods, but also in achieving sustainable recovery and long-term disaster risk reduction. The Project will, therefore, focus on providing technical assistance in localized and sustainable risk mitigation work,” said Deepak Singh, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist and the Task Team Leader for the Project.
Over the years, the World Bank has significantly increased its support to India for its disaster risk management work. Currently, five projects are under implementation: National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project I, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction Project, Bihar Kosi Flood Recovery Project, Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project, and the Odisha Disaster Recovery Project. In addition to reconstruction, these projects are helping improve the disaster risk management capacity both at the state and national levels, including disaster-resilient infrastructure, analytical work, equipment, training, and in particular establishing systems for better risk management through improved forecasting, early warning systems, and multi-hazard risk assessments for planning, and decision support systems.
Two other projects related to disaster risk management – National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project II and Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project — were also recently approved by the Board.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period.