ADB Bringing Safer, Climate-Resilient Roads to Cambodia’s Poor Rural Areas

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide nine poor rural provinces in Cambodia with year-round access to markets and social services through a $118 million project to provide a safer, cost-effective rural road network.

ADB’s Board of Directors approved a loan of $54 million equivalent, as part of a financing package for the Rural Roads Improvement Project II.

“Cambodia’s rural economy is increasingly dependent on the road network for income opportunities and access to services,” said Shihiru Date, an ADB Senior Transport Specialist. “This project to upgrade 729 kilometers of rural roads will provide safe, climate-resilient and cost effective roads in provinces that are home to a large portion of Cambodia’s poor.”

The rural road network has deteriorated due to lack of finance, poor maintenance, and increasing traffic. The project will upgrade these mostly gravel roads to paved condition in nine provinces—Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom, Pursat, Siem Reap, and Takeo.

The project builds on the work of ADB’s first Rural Roads Improvement Project, approved in 2010, which is upgrading more than 500 km of rural roads and carrying out road safety and institutional improvements.

Besides carrying out further road improvements, the project will continue the earlier program of rural road asset management to improve the overall institutional arrangements for maintenance. With overloading of cargo vehicles a major cause of damage to rural roads, the project will also extend axle-loading control programs.

Cambodia’s road crash rate has tripled since 2002, reaching 13.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012. Since improved roads allow for higher speeds, the project will extend the community-based rural road safety programs of the earlier project.

Climate change considerations are also being incorporated into the project design, given that rural roads are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather and flooding. Activities will include a community-based emergency management system for a group of five islands in the Mekong River that lack year-round connectivity, and a green planting program in all nine provinces under the project.

The $118 million financing package includes a parallel loan of $41 million from the Government of the Republic of Korea, a grant of $6.67 million from the Government of Australia, and grant cofinancing of $5.4 million from the Nordic Development Fund. ADB will administer both grants. The Government of Cambodia will finance the remaining $11.16 million cost of the project.