The World Bank has approved a $108 million (approximately Rs 889 crores) loan to help Assam improve disaster preparedness and enhance flood forecasting. According to a release from the multilateral bank, the project will benefit around six million people and is part of a larger $500 million investment program for the state.
The Assam Integrated River Basin Management Project will help the state reduce vulnerability to floods and river erosion by building green infrastructure in the Beki and Buridehing river basins, protecting around one lakh people.
The project will also help strengthen the state's response to disasters through improved flood forecasting and accurate early warning systems, including mobile alerts.
It will provide safer evacuation and shelter facilities including access to climate-resilient flood shelters to at least 10,000 people, the release said.
The project will also help government agencies to respond faster during a crisis with upgraded state and district emergency operational centres.
"The 2022 floods adversely impacted millions of people in Assam," said Auguste Tano Kouame, the World Bank's Country Director for India.
"This project will build on Assam's disaster risk management approach thus contributing to climate-resilient growth while protecting lives and property for the people of Assam," he added.
The project will support Assam to tackle the immediate challenges of floods and erosion while also helping manage its complex river systems.
The Brahmaputra River system is the economic lifeline of Assam and a critical part of the state's rich natural resources and cultural heritage. But flooding, riverbank erosion, sedimentation and loss of biodiversity have significant economic and environmental impacts on the state, leading to loss of livelihoods for its people.
The government of Assam, according to the World Bank, has projected an increase in extreme rainfall events by 5-35 per cent and an increase in the rise of flood events by more than 25 per cent due to climate change.
"Water resource management combined with disaster preparedness is a critical way to protect natural resources and increase economic growth," said Greg Browder, Anup Karanth, and Satya Priya, the Task Team Leaders for the project. "The project will contribute to designing climate resilient villages and develop flood shelters that provide sufficient space for community members and livestock."
The $108 million loan from the World Bank arm International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a maturity of 11.5 years and a grace period of four years.
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