By: Marisol Arias Photos by: Soledad Bartolelli and courtesy Casa Presidencial
- President confirms that this government has invested more resources in Guanacaste
- Government highlights goals despite representatives´ criticisms
In his traditional tour to the province of Guanacaste for the celebration of the 192nd Anniversary of the Annexation of the Nicoya to Costa Rica, President of the Republic, Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, delivered a speech about outlining actions taken by his administration for a province in need of answers.
Solís addressed criticisms from the province´s disparaging representatives and other groups that, for months, have noted the slow progress with urgent solutions to the problems of Guanacaste. These include poor infrastructure, lack of jobs, poverty, lack of investment in health and education and, of course, the water crisis that hits the agricultural sector and has restrained the province´s growth and investments.
Under the slogan “Guanacaste is changing,” Solís’ administration countered with its main achievements, in particular, reduction of poverty, completion of important sections of the Inter American Route and other road work, investment in education facilities and in La Anexión Hospital, projects designed to solve water crisis and climate change, among other accomplishments.
Poverty reduction and progress with social programs
The report concerning social issues presented by the Government emphasized a reduction of poverty thanks to private enterprises, communal actions and the administration´s own efforts. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), the poverty line decreased from 33.2% to 27%, marking a reduction of 6.2%. The report stressed that “this is good news for all.”
“In Guanacaste, the Ministry of Public Education is executing the highest investment ever in education infrastructure. Aqueducts and irrigation channels, designed for fresh water production and use are under construction. There are significant improvements related to hospitals and health centers. More electricity is produced from clean energies and there are many projects designed for better production and marketing,” stated a report made public as part of the celebrations for the Annexation anniversary. “Guanacaste is a priority in the plans and the actions considered by President Solís´ administration.”
In his report last May 2, Solís said: “In Guanacaste, the previous skepticism is being replaced by a pro-active attitude. Guanacaste no longer opens its hands to receive charity but offers them to seek strategic alliances.”
“Mesa por Guanacaste”: recognized goals
Juan Marín of the National Liberation Party and Johnny Leiva of the Social Christian Unity Party have declared their discontent with the management and the slow progress in results. However, the Government defended the administration and goals of “Mesa por Guanacaste.”
According to the Government, “Mesa por Guanacaste” is a platform for communities, productive sectors, local administrations, universities, representatives and Government institutions to give priority and control to the progress of Guanacaste´s projects.
“Mesa por Guanacaste,’ which was designed to Improve Quality of Life, Productive and Infrastructure Development and Employment Promotion was established by Presidential Agreement N° 039 in Nicoya on July 25, 2015.
Meetings take place every month in Guanacaste and attending are vice-ministers of many institutions. Every two months, ministers meet in a complete plenary session to assess the projects´ progresses.
The items included in the agenda are: water supply and hydric infrastructure; productive private and public investment projects; road infrastructure and transport; investigation and innovation about drought and climate change adaptation policies, as well as housing, education and health.
Water, infrastructure and other items still pending
Perhaps the most relevant issue today in Guanacaste is water management. Given the social pressure about the resource, the Government created the Global Water Supply Plan for Guanacaste (PIAAG).
After almost a year of work as a result of one of the worst droughts in the last 70 years, Solís´ administration emphasized works and efforts that provide solutions in the short, medium and long terms.
“We have taken actions to contain the impact of the drought. For instance, fresh water is being provided through tank trucks to the more than 30,000 residents in Nicoya, Santa Cruz, Carrillo, Cañas, Abangares, Nandayure, La Cruz, Liberia and Bagaces, which represent an investment of ₡200 million. Other tanks were set up with an investment of ₡79 million,” stated the Government´s report.
There are also 223 rural aqueducts (ASADAS) that increased storage and improved water distribution.
There have been investments in the coastal area: the Papagayo Sur and the Santa Cruz aqueducts received investments of ₡3,000 million and $15 million (₡8,200 million), respectively. The latter will benefit 50,000 residents and is expected to be delivered in 2017.
The investment in the El Coco-Ocotal aqueduct is estimated at ₡748 million and benefits 34,000 residents.
“There are three ongoing strategic megaprojects for fresh water supply, agriculture and livestock productions and tourism: Embalse Río Piedras, Embalse Las Loras and a smaller one in Trasvase Liberia,” said the report.
Embalse Río Piedras: Water Supply System to Río Tempisque Basin and coastal communities.
The project, with an investment estimated at $620 million (₡310,000 million) will use 20 cubic meters per second to lead water to the right bank of the Tempisque River for irrigation, tourism and fresh water to Nicoya, Carrillo and Santa Cruz.
Road, airport and health infrastructure
Solís inaugurated the Cañas-Liberia route, a modern 50.5-kilometer-road to shorten commute time and promote commerce, production and tourism.
President Solís also announced the planned investment of ₡2,116 million to enhance the landing strip of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. This came as a result of the fact that 835,000 tourists entered the country through Liberia in 2015.
₡18,000 million has been invested in the enlargement of the tower of La Anexión Hospital in Nicoya.