SANTO DOMINGO Ė The fears around the world over the rapidly spreading Zika virus have led to the creation of a public-private project in the Dominican Republic to clean up the two largest rivers in Santo Domingo, the Ozama and the Isabela, whose waters are extremely polluted.
The project is expected to provide extensive environmental and social benefits since trash will be removed from the waterways to eliminate the breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits Zika, dengue and Chikungunya.
Containers made from plastic and polystyrene, a harmful material that cannot be recycled, float in the rivers for kilometers, an EFE reporter confirmed during a boating trip organized by the private port of Sansouci.
Removing trash is just one part of the Herculean task faced by those undertaking the riversí clean-up, experts said.
Research, investment and education are needed to help the rivers recover and stay healthy, the experts said.
Residents will have to be trained to keep the waterways clean and some communities will have to be relocated away from the riverbanks.
Sansouci organizes the boat trips as part of its work with the Coalicion Rio, an alliance of private and public entities that is trying to restore the health of the Ozama and Isabela rivers.
The Spanish foreign aid agency is providing 8.27 million euros (about $ 9.3 million) for the expansion of the eastern aqueduct in the city of Santo Domingo Este by the Corporacion del Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Santo Domingo.