US$55mn World Bank loan to Sri Lanka to modernise Jaffna

ECONOMYNEXT – The World Bank is giving Sri Lanka a loan of US$55 million to improve urban services, preserve cultural and environment assets, and enhance livability in the former war zone northern city of Jaffna.

"There is substantial potential for economic growth in Jaffna, now that peace has returned,” said Françoise Clottes, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. “An improved urban environment is a favorable habitat for the developing enterprises that one day will become the engines of growth."

The Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development is the lead responsible agency for the implementation of this project with active participation from Jaffna Municipal Council and other implementation partner agencies, a statement said.

“Guided by consultations with Jaffna’s citizens, the project will attempt to improve the road network and rehabilitate the drainage system while preserving the city’s ponds, which have played an important role in flood management and which could be key to climate change adaptation.”

In addition, the project aims to preserve cultural heritage assets such as public spaces and parks as well as encouraging cycling.

As communicated during recent consultations, the people of Jaffna see a priority in improving city functions and livability while preserving cultural heritage.

"Building trust among citizens and service providers is a challenge and an outcome we hope to achieve through the additional finance support to Jaffna through this project," said Zhiyu Jerry Chen, World Bank Senior Urban Development Specialist and Task Team Leader of the project.

"A City Stakeholder forum will be used under this project for improved and continued citizen engagement to closely collaborate with the service providers in ensuring the project investments are put to profitable use for the people of Jaffna," he said.

The credit will add development of rapidly urbanizing Jaffna to the existing Strategic Cities Development Project, which is supported by the World Bank and was originally approved in 2014, and includes projects to develop Galle and Kandy.

A recent World Bank study, "Sri Lanka: a Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD)", identifies Jaffna as a rapidly growing, single-city agglomeration in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.

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