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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Algeria loaned $89m for flood defence
Algerians pick their way past flood damage
Floods and mudflows left damage estimated at $400m
Algeria is to receive an $89m loan from the World Bank to help it protect its cities against floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The loan is intended to pay for immediate civil defence measures, and help Algeria build the infrastructure it needs to minimise future damage.

The four-year project follows a request for assistance from the government, made in the wake of devastating floods which hit the capital, Algiers, in 2001.

More than 800 lives were lost in the resulting floods and mudflows, along with property damage valued at about $400m.

About one third of the damage was caused to housing, with the rest to transport and sewage systems.

In the firing line

Algiers has grown at a breakneck pace in recent years, as the proportion of Algeria's population living in cities has surged from 31% in 1996 to 60% in 2000.

The growth means that the already poor housing stock and infrastructure available to the capital's 3 million people has come under increasing stress.

And rampant deforestation of the surrounding countryside has left soil unsupported, a factor contributing both to floods and mudslides.

The World Bank said one of its worries was that the frequent natural disasters were diverting resources away from long-term development needs to finance the recovery efforts.

The new money, it said, should finance the training of staff in public agencies, and the purchase of badly needed equipment.

Longer term, the cash is aimed at helping pay for reforestation and works to water courses, to help contain future flooding.

See also:

06 Aug 02 | Business
26 Jul 02 | Africa
14 Jul 02 | Middle East
05 Jun 02 | Country profiles
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