WASHINGTON – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved $265 million in lending to Argentina to finance projects focused on expanding access to renewable energy and protecting vulnerable natural areas.
“Through these projects we intend to close the service access gap between rural and urban inhabitants,” Jesko Hentschel, World Bank Director for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, said in a statement.
“By providing electricity to remote towns, protecting the native forests that are a source of income for Creole and indigenous communities, and preserving the biodiversity of the Gran Chaco, we contribute to the promotion of better living conditions among the poorest 40 percent of Argentines,” he said.
The World Bank will provide $200 million to the Renewable Energy for Rural Markets Project, which has already brought alternative energy to 150,000 people in 15 provinces.
The project’s second phase will reach 725,000 people through the installation of solar panels, mini-networks and wind-power systems, as well as solar water heaters and stoves in public schools and institutions.
“This program represents a successful social inclusion tool for those populations located in isolated areas or areas far removed from transportation and electricity networks, where market rules often dictate the convenience, or not, of connecting them to the electricity network,” Argentine Energy Secretary Mariana Matranga said.
Another loan will help fund the $58.7 million Native Forests and Communities project, supporting sustainable forest management plans and the development of productive projects that will benefit 150,000 small-scale producers and their families, most of them indigenous people, in Chaco, Santiago del Estero, Salta, Jujuy and Misiones provinces.
The money from the World Bank will also go toward the Rural Corridors and Biodiversity project, promoting the comprehensive management of almost 1 million hectares (2.47 million acres) in the Gran Chaco, Patagonian and coastal areas.