|IDNDR - Informs - Number 09-10, Special Edition, 1996 (IDNDR)|
The Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, suffers every year from loss of property along the banks of the Paraguay river. Although there are dikes in place, their effectiveness has been compromised by low income groups who have been forced to settle beyond the protected areas, even though annual flooding threatens to take away their every possession.
An ambitious program called Protecting the Coastal Fringe is to change the face of the city by the year 2000. The municipal program focuses on changing people's behavior and the use of vulnerable river banks.
The first step has been to design an urban development plan which takes into account the historical heritage but also the risks and vulnerabilities of the city. The plan was completed with the active participation of the population living in areas at risk. Among other actions taken, a census was carried out to establish the size of the affected population and their level of income. In addition, workshops have been organized in areas at risk to come up with solutions that are acceptable to the affected population and also feasible for City Council to implement. Negotiations are under way with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to secure the financing for this great project.
Some of the strategies outlined in the project include:
· Developing environmentally sustainable solutions that regard the city and the river as integrated parts of a dynamic system.
· Improving the living conditions of current settlers as a first step towards finding long-term sustainable housing solutions.
· Creating more green areas to make Asunción's ecosystem sustainable.
· Generate economic and employment opportunities for those who are resettled.
So far, this project has led to the emergence of an innovative network involving public, private and community organizations. The workshops and public information campaigns have already produced a positive change of outlook among both settlers at risk and local authorities.
For more information, contact: Gonzalo Garay, Director, Urban Planning, Municipality of Asuncion.
Fax: (595-21) 610591