The World Bank's Board of Directors on Thursday approved two loans to Colombia for a total of 194.8 million dollars to support a nationwide poverty reduction program and improve the country's infrastructure services.
"Both of these projects will directly support Colombia's poverty reduction efforts," said Makhtar Diop, acting World Bank Country Director for Colombia and Mexico.
"One of them will do so by strengthening the country's social safety net and investing in human capital, while the other project will provide essential water and sanitation services to La Guajira's poor," he added.
The 104.8 million dollars in additional financing for the Social Safety Net Project will help poor families directly, said the World Bank.
The program disburses cash transfers (grants) to poor families linked to compliance with key human development conditionalities, such as school attendance and health check-ups. The additional financing will enable the program to expand the current number of beneficiaries (nearly 600,000) to about 1 million.
The original Social Safety Net Project was supported by a 86.4 million dollar World Bank loan approved in November 1, 2005. To date, the program has increased school attendance rates by 7 percentage points in rural areas and 5 percentage points in urban areas. In addition, there were improvements in the health and nutrition status of children, particularly in rural areas, said the World Bank.
The second loan for 90 million dollars will finance the La Guajira Water and Sanitation Infrastructure and Service Management Project, which will provide basic water supply and sanitation services to the province of La Guajira's urban areas, benefiting about 300,000 people.
With a population of 520,000 approximately 42 percent of whom are indigenous people La Guajira is one of the least developed and most impoverished of Colombia's 32 provinces.