| Contact: Lee Morrison (202) 458-8741
Christopher Neal (202) 473-7229
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WASHINGTON, May 6, 2003 — The World Bank has approved a $46.7 million loan to finance the construction and improvement of rural roads in Guatemala’s northern department of Huehuetenango.
The Second Main and Rural Roads Project supports the government’s initiative to build and repair rural, secondary and main roads and bridges, providing some 500,000 local people in an impoverished and isolated part of the country better and quicker access to markets, schools, health clinics and other key facilities.
“This project uses a community-based approach, successfully pioneered in the San Marcos Rural Roads Pilot Project that started in 1998,” said Jane Armitage, World Bank Country Director for Guatemala. The earlier project, also supported by the World Bank, set up an association of 12 municipalities in Guatemala’s western department of San Marcos, established a framework for local management of this and other development projects, and set up micro-enterprises to create road-building jobs.
“These roads provide vital access and mobility to the rural poor” said Guillermo Ruán, World Bank Task Manager for the project. “The critical factor in the project’s success is that its strategy, as well as road improvements and construction, are in the hands of local people. In the earlier project, this combined approach not only helped to reverse the geographic isolation and lack of opportunity that perpetuate poverty, but it also encouraged local communities to come together again after years of internal conflict.”
The new project will establish two associations involving 21 villages in the Huehuetenango region, whose population is mainly indigenous and poor. Plans include the repair of 830 kilometers of rural roads and 270 kilometers of secondary and main roads, the construction of some 80 foot-bridges, and the formation of 20 small firms to carry out these works.
This single-currency, fixed-spread loan has a repayment period of 17 years, including five years of grace. Disbursements will run from 2004 through 2007.
For more information on the World Bank’s work in the Latin America and Caribbean region, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/lac