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The Obama administration wants to spend as much $650 million to improve urban- and local-government service delivery, which includes the development of strategies to adapt to climate change and respond to natural disasters.

The endeavor will target cities and towns around the globe – with the exception of those in the United States.

Many coastal cities around the world are ill-prepared to deal with rising sea levels and extreme weather events that the administration expects from “climate change.”

The Helping Access Basic Infrastructure Technical Assistance and Training, or HABITAT, initiative therefore hopes to improve the ability of such places to withstand flooding, earthquakes and other events.

WND revealed HABITAT in a report last year, when the U.S. Agency for International Development released a presolicitation notice containing limited information about the program, which it had not yet officially launched.

Within months, Hurricane Sandy battered municipalities along the U.S. Eastern seaboard, causing an estimated $50 billion damages, primarily in the New York City metropolitan area. USAID for unstated reasons delayed releasing a detailed Request for Proposals from interested contractors until this week.

WND located the RFP, which is dated July 8, through routine database research.

The RFP claims that cities are responsible for producing about 78 percent of “greenhouse gas emissions.” Consequently, the 600 million people who live fewer than 10 meters above sea level – 360 million of whom live in cities – are “highly susceptible to the risks posed by climate change, including flooding, storm surges, and rises in sea levels.”

In light of the rapid urbanization of the globe, the U.S. must step in to help, USAID contends.

“Urban areas must become better prepared for disasters before they strike and to rebuild stronger and smarter after a disaster,” the agency says in the RFP.

“Urban areas need to be able to identify risks are prepare action plans towards mitigating those risks and providing safer places to live and work.”

Other areas for which the HABITAT program will seek targeted improvements include:

  • Public service delivery with an emphasis on transportation, water and sanitation;
  • Autonomy, transparency, responsiveness and accountability of urban and local governments; and:
  • Urban and local government finance, creditworthiness and borrowing.

HABITAT is the most recent metamorphosis of similar programs that existed under President Bill Clinton and continued with President George W. Bush.

President Obama, through USAID, has more than doubled the cost of previous endeavors.

The contract ceiling for the Sustainable Urban Management II, or SUM II initiative – HABITAT’s predecessor program under Bush – had been set at $300 million over five years.

Unlike HABITAT under Obama – which delayed release of the RFP for one week short of a full calendar year – availability of the SUM II RFP came within days of the initial presolicitation notice.

Recently obtained procurement documents do not provide an estimated total cost of related Clinton-era programs, such as Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade/Urban Programs, or EGAT/UP, and those falling under the Making Cities Work strategy.

HABITAT over the next five years is scheduled to award contracts for individual work orders ranging from $1 million to $5 million each, capped at a $650 million total.

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