ASUNCION – Paraguay’s urban development, housing and habitat minister, Dany Durand, set on Tuesday 2023 as the deadline for beginning to deliver 6,000 houses to the residents of Asuncion’s Bañados sector, more of whom each year are forced to abandon their homes due to flooding from the rising Paraguay River.
“We have figured on starting in 2020 to build the homes we want to finish in 2023,” Durand told EFE on Tuesday.
He added that the his ministry, known as MUVH, has a “scheduled” plan to provide a response within the next 10 years for residents living in neighborhoods near the Paraguay River who are flooded out of their homes, the total this year alone amounting to 4,000 families.
The project would get started in 2019 with the initial construction phase for 3,000 homes in the Costanera Norte district and others in Costanera Sur, and then between 2023-2028 some 2,000 more houses will be built in each Bañado zone.
“In all, during this 10-year period, we’ve already mapped out building 5,000 homes in Costanera Norte and 5,000 in Costanera Sur,” the minister said.
The MUVH currently is waiting for the Asuncion city authorities to make available a 60-hectare (150-acre) zone along the riverbank where before construction begins a process of filling in the land will be undertaken to win the battle against the water.
Durand said he was certain that the city would provide the land very soon, given that both capital authorities and the national government promised last week before the Asuncion Archdiocese to find and provide and solution for the Bañados residents.
“We’re waiting from now until the end of the year for the city to grant the land so that we can make the investment for filling it in ... and to begin to see the water, light and sewage services get started. We can’t do any of that if we don’t have title (to the land),” he said.
The plan to urbanize the riverbank area, which each year is exposed to flooding, presents no problem for MUVH since – Durand said – the land there will be raised to a height of 64 meters, above the maximum 60-meter level to which the Paraguay River can rise.
“It’s much better to raise the level to where the water’s not going to go ... It’s all about building retention walls and later (doing the) refilling that prevents, in this case, the river from encroaching more into the districts,” he said.
The first phase of the urban plan is slated to cost $120 million for the construction of prototype homes of between 40-52 square meters (430-560 square feet) with “two bedrooms, a small living-dining room, a small kitchen and also a bath,” the minister said.
The government will subsidize 95 percent of the final cost, while the families will have to pay a sum of “$600” over long terms.