WB offers $ 250 million aid for B'desh cyclone recovery

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Dhaka, Nov 20 (UNI) The World Bank has offered up to 250 million dollar in the aftermath of cyclone Sidr to help millions of Bangladeshis recover and strengthen the country's disaster mitigation systems.

''This is a horrible shock to Bangladesh and our sympathies are with the thousands of families who have lost loved ones; with the millions who have lost livelihoods and shelter,'' said Xian Zhu, World Bank Country Director in Bangladesh.

He said the World Bank was willing to make up to 250 million dollar available to the Bangladesh government, depending on its financing needs and what other donors brought to the table.

Mr Zhu said Bangladesh is still in the rescue and relief phase but as it moves into recovery over the next few days, ''our commitment is a signal to the government of the scale of what we can offer if needed.'' He said the Bank's assistance could be used to support short-term needs like food imports, the rapid procurement of medical supplies, cash grants to the poorest victims and help to get people back on their feet and recovering their sources of income and livelihood.

The Bank's support could also help Bangladesh manage macroeconomic shocks over this period of challenge. In the longer term, Bank support would be available for infrastructure rehabilitation, especially damage to embankments and other flood mitigation and shelter infrastructure.

Mr Zhu commended Bangladesh for the progress that it has made in dealing with the short and long term impact of periodic floods and cyclones.

In 1970, over 5,00,000 people died following the impact of a cyclone, he said. As responses to disasters have improved and as some shelter infrastructure has been put in place, death tolls have become smaller but Bangladesh remains extremely vulnerable, more so as climate change adds to its burden.

The Bank's assistance will also support coastal zone management to help Bangladesh face the challenge of climate change by both mitigating the inevitable impact of future storms and designing the necessary adaptations to protect people and their livestock.

The aid will complement existing commitments from the World Bank in response to massive floods in August and September.

The Bank provided 75 million dollar in quick-disbursing financing as an initial flood response and will support restoration and rehabilitation through reallocation of existing funds to support reconstruction and improvements in the areas of agriculture, health, communications, water and sanitation.

UNI

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