Road transportation plays a pivotal role in Nicaragua’s economic development. The competitiveness of its industry, agriculture and trade is closely linked to the efficacy and efficiency of the transportation operation.
In order to support this sector, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has implemented the Transport Sector Support Program (PAST, after its Spanish initials). The goal of this series of operations is to improve road transportation in Nicaragua so as to stimulate economic activities and the welfare of the population and promote the integration of its different regions with the rest of Central America.
Since the PAST program comprises multiple planned works and three phases, an Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) was formulated and implemented, outlining the procedures for meeting the Bank’s environmental and social safeguards.
The Program has also implemented climate risk studies to increase the resilience of the transportation sector. In 2015 the IDB worked in conjunction with the Nordic Development Fund and several consortia to analyze the road network’s climate change vulnerability. It should be noted that Nicaragua’s climate map is quite complex, with tropical waves, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, trade winds, and irregular terrain, and therefore required a model that could understand and adapt to this complexity.
The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) makes it possible to simulate meteorological conditions at regional and mesoscale level, ensuring that all processes involved in determining the meteorological variables affecting climate change impacts on the road network are duly considered. The WRF’s high spatial resolution enables the provision of localized information. Nicaragua’s national territory was represented in a 4×4 km mesh in order to determine the areas with greater rainfall and temperature variation. The study provided more precise details and merged with the existing hydrological model. It also made it possible to update the technical specifications of road-related water works, to analyze the soil saturation factor, and to estimate embankments stability, among other achievements.
Climate change factors are being incorporated into the technical rules of road design, and progress is expected in the implementation of the most urgent vulnerabilities.
This blog was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure of Nicaragua, the IDB’s Transportation Division and Environmental and Social Safeguards Unit, the advisor to Consorcio Idom, NCG, Meteosim, and Condisa.