Belize will strengthen the climate resilience of its energy sector with the help of an $8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility .
The World Bank Board of Directors approved the grant this week.
“A major concern we often grapple with is extreme weather,” said Frank Mena, Belize’s Minister of State for Finance, Public Service, Energy & Public Utilities. “The impact of such events often leads to major setbacks to our development progress.”
Belize is located in the direct path of many tropical storms and hurricanes, resulting in many human casualties and widespread infrastructural damage.
The impact of Hurricane Dean in 2007 resulted in $80-100 million in damages, equivalent to 6-8 percent of GDP, and a nearly nationwide power blackout.
Just last month, Hurricane Earl left another wave of disruptions, and the rate of these storms is yet expected to increase due to climate change.
“Building climate resilience is a key priority for Belize. This project aims to support the government’s continued efforts to make energy and power systems better prepared and more resilient to storms, hurricanes and natural hazards,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.
Among the objectives for the project are: improved capacity for long-term planning; better monitoring of weather and localized impacts of climate change through the installation of meteorological stations across the country; enhanced electricity supply security despite weather events by strengthening the transmission network; improved preparedness through the design and implementation of an Emergency Response and Recovery Plan; and revitalized communication network for power companies.
The four-year project is financed by the Global Environment Facility’s Special Climate Change Fund, and $3.9 million counterpart financing from the Government of Belize and the Belize Electricity Limited company.