You may not know it, but Tacuarembó, Uruguay is the town where Carlos Gardel, one of the most prominent figures in the history of tango, was born. It is a city full of traditions; in March of every year, many visitors gather in Tacuarembó to celebrate the Feast of the Patria Gaucha.
Tacuarembó is also one of the beneficiaries of the Local Development and Subnational Management Program through which the bridge over the Tacuarembó stream was built in Paso del Bote de Tacuarembó. This bridge will improve connectivity to the National Route N 5 which connects the city center with Barrio Juan Domingo López and areas on the other side of the current bridge. The work on the double bridge is the largest to date in the Tacuarembó Department.
Three things caught my attention when I made the visit to the bridge over the Tacuarembó pass: First, the vibration on the bridge caused by livestock and gauchos with horse carts loading and carrying pastures from one town to another; Second, the anticipation of villagers to have this bridge completed and their eagerness to have this symbol of modern times for both villages. But perhaps what struck me the most was the effective management of environmental, social and occupational health and safety issues in the project. Very rarely have I observed a designed environmental and social management plan implemented so well in practice. This project was the only work that required Prior Environmental Authorization of those financed by the Local Development and Subnational Management Program. From the moment construction began in April 2015, the work contained close environmental and social management monitoring by officials from the Office of Planning and Budget.
The construction company (SACEEM) had an impeccable performance with regards to its environmental, social, safety and health standards, with the goal of zero accidents. The company has performed very well during environmental audits and is prepared for emergency situation in events of heatwaves and/or floods. SACEEM also has an excellent communication program with the community.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) renewed its commitment to support decentralization in Uruguay and recently approved two conditional credit lines: the first dedicated to the Development and Strengthening of Fiscal and Subnational Service Management, and the second dedicated to the Productive Rural Roads Improvement Program. Both programs are implemented by the Planning and Budget Office of the Ministry of Transport and Public Works (MTOP), and are complementary to each other.
These programs also have the same Environmental and Social Management Framework (MSM), which establishes the bases and good practices in environmental and social safeguards. This framework is a key input for the environmental assessment of projects to be executed by the Planning and Budget Office for both programs. As an example, the framework helped create proposals to improve quarrying and environmental management.
Thanks in part to the excellent project performance in environmental and social management, the IDB is exploring the possibility of applying the first Country Safeguard Systems pilot in the Rural Camineria Program. To that end, an equivalence and acceptability analysis is currently being carried out between IDB Safeguards and Uruguayan environmental, social and disaster risk regulations.
While we hope that the results of this analysis are positive and we can begin to work on this first pilot, we aim to strengthen Uruguay’s environmental and social management capacity while also leveraging the country’s examples of good performance to facilitate processes.