MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to help finance a major upgrade of rural roads in some of Cambodia's poorest provinces as part of a project that will also address growing road safety and climate change challenges.
A loan of $35 million equivalent for the Rural Roads Improvement Project will be used to help pave over 500 kilometers of roads in seven provinces located mostly around the Tonle Sap Basin, where a large number of the country's rural poor live. Cofinancing is being provided by Korea Eximbank, owned by the Government of Korea, and the Nordic Development Fund, which is supporting climate change adaptation measures.
"This initiative will provide reliable all-year road access from provincial towns and agricultural rural areas to markets, employment centers and social services, benefiting about 560,000 people," said Shihiru Date, Senior Transport Specialist in ADB's Southeast Asia Department.
Cambodia, with support from development partners, including ADB, has been steadily building or upgrading its roads since the early 1990s, following years of conflict, with about a quarter of its total national and provincial road network now paved. However, in recent years rural roads have been deteriorating because of a steady rise in traffic, a lack of maintenance funds, weak management capacity, design deficiencies and other problems. Overloading of cargo trucks has become a serious problem, while the country has the unenviable reputation of having one of the highest incidences of road accidents in the world.
To address these issues, the project will provide community-based road safety awareness programs, and training and capacity building support for staff and agencies engaged in planning, managing and maintaining the roads. Given the country's vulnerability to floods and other severe weather-related events, climate change, adaptation measures are also included, such as mapping, and planning systems to evaluate threats, and to improve flood and drought management. The project will also aim to develop pilot programs for early warning and emergency management planning systems, as well as water capture and storage systems to cope with an expected increase in floods and droughts.
The project has a strong labor and gender mainstreaming plan which will ensure that local residents get priority for road construction work, and that men and women receive equal pay for equal work.
"With paved rural roads and improved access to social services, girls will have a better chance of attending secondary school, markets will be easier to reach, 'buy and sell' opportunities for women will increase, and it will also be safer for women and girls to travel further from home," said Mr. Date.
ADB's loan, from its concessional Asian Development Fund will make up about 52% of the total project cost of $67 million. It will have a 32-year term, including an 8-year grace period carrying a 1% per annum interest charge, rising to 1.5% a year for the balance of the term. Korea Eximbank is extending a $19.35 million loan to finance civil works and consulting costs, the Nordic Development Fund is providing a $5.4 million grant, and the Government of Cambodia is supplying the remaining $7.25 million.
The Ministry of Rural Development is the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in December 2015.