The Northwestern Rural Development Project (NRDP) aimed to improve access to services in four of the most isolated, impoverished, and war-affected northwestern provinces by rehabilitating public infrastructure, strengthening the capacity of communities and institutions to plan and manage public infrastructure investments, and enhancing livelihood opportunities. In 2001, ADB approved a loan for $27.2 million to help the government reduce poverty in Northwestern Cambodia.
A comprehensive gender analysis conducted during loan design revealed the changing nature of women’s roles due to the loss and disability of men resulting from nearly three decades of conflict and the migration of men to seek work outside of their communities. In view of a reduced male labor force, women now comprised 51.4% of the working age population and were the primary income earners in many households, undertaking activities and assuming roles traditionally held by men. Yet, women who sought wage labour were often paid less than men, were overburdened by multiple responsibilities, and had a weak role in community decisionmaking.
In view of these and other identified gender disparities, a design Gender Action Plan (GAP) was prepared to ensure that women’s needs were addressed and that women were able to actively participate in the project. In general, the NRDP was successful in meeting its objectives of constructing rural road networks and village-based infrastructure, as well as developing the capacity of villagers to plan, implement, and manage public infrastructure investments. Due to the GAP/strategy, the project achieved a number of important practical benefits for women. Unskilled women benefitted from equal access to employment in labor-based roadwork and received equal pay for their work. Gender sensitive participatory approaches were used in planning, implementing, and monitoring village-based infrastructure projects and women were empowered to actively participate in these community development processes. At the same time, small-scale infrastructure improvements in villages increased women’s access to basic services and lessened women’s workloads through time-savings, achieving the main GAP objectives. Read more.