Members of the Board of Executive Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank today visited landmarks of Medellín to learn how Colombia’s industrial capital is leading a successful urban, economic and social transformation. Medellín is the site of the IDB’s 50th anniversary Annual Meeting.
The IDB directors took the city’s metro and cable cars over neighborhoods once devastated by drug violence to see how Medellín is becoming an example for other Latin American and Caribbean cities fighting poverty and crime. In their journey, accompanied by the Mayor of Medellín Alonso Salazar and other city leaders, the directors attended a practice session of the youth orchestra of Santo Domingo, one of many innovative youth programs in the city.
The directors also attended a ceremony at the headquarters of Empresas Publicas de Medellín (EPM), one of Latin America’s leading municipal public utility companies, for the signing of a $450 million IDB loan for a project to turn the Medellín River into one of the cleanest waterways flowing through a major Latin American city.
EPM provides potable water, sewer, power, gas and telephone services to around three million people. The company already supplies water and sewage collection services to nearly all the population in its service area.
Over the past two decades EPM has built infrastructure to treat sewage and wastewater discharged into the Medellín River. The new loan, the largest one ever approved by the IDB for wastewater treatment, will help Medellín become one of the first major regional cities to adequately treat nearly 100 percent of the wastewater it collects.
A previous $130 million IDB loan helped EPM complete the first phase of this program with the construction of the San Fernando Wastewater Treatment Plant near the southern end of the Aburra Valley, home to the 10 municipalities that make up the Medellín metropolitan region.
The new loan will help finance the construction of a second, much larger wastewater treatment plant at the northern end of the Aburra Valley. When this plant is completed in 2012, the city will be treating close to 95 percent of all the wastewater flowing into the Medellín River.
The IDB has been a partner of Colombia in the development of efficient public utilities with strong private-sector participation. EPM received the first IDB loan to Colombia in April 1961.
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