Peru Approves Billion Dollar Package for Natural Disaster Prevention

The Finance Ministry said Wednesday that the government has approved a legislative package that is to provide about 3 billion soles ($1.07 billion) in investments for the prevention of natural disasters.

Finance Minister Luis Miguel Castilla said the package will provide funds to the national government, regional governments and municipal governments in order to carry out works to reduce the risks of natural disasters.

The investment package approved is equivalent to about 0.5% of Peru’s gross domestic product, Castilla said.

Castilla said that the package is intended to provide an “investment shock” to curb the damage that could be caused by earthquakes, floods, cold spells and the impact of the upcoming El Niño, among other natural occurrences.

In a statement, Castilla said the funds are to be used in four strategic pillars: the development of territorial studies; the physical protection of the population in the event of a natural disaster; the strengthening of buildings and infrastructure, especially in health and education sectors; and increasing the capacity of state personnel to respond in the event of a disaster.  The Ministry of Health is currently assisting six regions, led by Tumbes and Piura, to prepare their contingency plans for the onset of  El Niño towards the end of this year.

Located on the west coast of South America, on the convergence of the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, Peru is particularly prone to earthquakes. A strong earthquake in 2007 killed some 200 people in the southern coastal city of Pisco, which was virtually flattened. Recent, powerful earthquakes in northern Chile set off a tsunami warning in Peru.

Landslides and floods are also frequent in the Andes and in the Amazon Basin in the rainy season, while the warm ocean current phenomenon of El Niño — predicted by scientists to develop later this year— can bring rains to the unprepared desert coast in northern Peru and serious droughts to the southern highlands.

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