By Fernando Gimeno
Lima, May 13 (EFE).- An ambitious multi-billion-dollar reconstruction plan for flood-hit northern Peru is picking up speed after four years, a process given fresh impetus by the involvement of the United Kingdom.
The construction work encompasses 13 of the Andean nation’s 25 regions but is primarily focused on the northwestern regions of Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque and La Libertad, which were hardest hit by a natural disaster that left 162 dead and 300,000 homeless and destroyed 400 schools, 70 medical centers, 4,400 kilometers (2,730 miles) of roads and nearly 500 bridges.
A total of 4,100 infrastructure projects have been concluded to date, more than half of them over the past year, according to the executive director of the Authority for Reconstruction with Changes (ARCC), Amalia Moreno, who took office in late 2019.
An additional 1,700 projects are now under way and 1,300 others are in the contracting stage.
In that regard, Moreno says progress has been made on projects accounting for 65 percent of the total reconstruction program, which will involve expenditures by the national government and regional and municipal administrations amounting to 19 billion soles (roughly $5.2 billion).
“Despite the pandemic, we’re seeing incredible results compared to the previous administration, but still a significant portion remains,” she added.
A government-to-government agreement with the UK was signed in mid-2020 for the most important projects, a deal similar to the one inked with that country to build – in record time – all of the venues for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
“The support the United Kingdom gives us helps first of all (in terms of) trust, transparency, results-based management … and above all knowledge transfer. There are things where even the United Kingdom recognizes we don’t need help anymore,” Moreno said.
The British side is responsible for managing and advising on the reconstruction of 74 schools and 15 medical establishments, as well as channel adjustments for 17 rivers and river drainage improvements in seven cities to avoid a repeat of the 2017 flooding sparked by a so-called coastal El Niño event.
The comprehensive river solutions include increasing channel capacity and bolstering flood protection through afforestation, as well as installing early alert systems to warn the local population about potentially dangerous increases in water levels or flash floods.
Time is of the essence to ensure Peru is better prepared for the next abnormal warming of Pacific waters off Peru, a weather phenomenon known as a coastal El Niño that triggered deadly torrential rains and river flooding during the 2016-2017 Southern Hemisphere summer. EFE