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Bhutan: Road Improvement Project: Improving the Well-being of Road Workers - 2011
The goal of the Road Improvement Project (RIP) was to contribute to poverty reduction in Bhutan by providing employment opportunities to the poorest segment of the country’s population, thereby improving their quality of life.
The project’s objectives, which are consistent with ADB’s principle of pro-poor economic growth, were as follows:
- improve the East-West (EW) Highway (the only means of transport between two important cities) through resurfacing, construction of line drainage, and slope protection;
- promote private sector participation and assist in the development of domestic contracting and consulting activities by introducing a pilot contractor and equipment leasing scheme;
- reduce poverty by increasing employment opportunities for the poor, and improve access to health, education, and other social services; and
- strengthen governance by providing institutional support to the Department of Roads (DoR).
Development aims and impacts:
- Improving roads produces a broad range of direct economic and social benefits to beneficiary communities as well as to the disadvantaged, women and, in particular, the poor.
- Despite the stereotype that road improvement work is solely the domain of men, in Bhutan both men and women perform this work, though a different set of tasks is typically assigned to each gender. Basic equipment is rarely provided in the case of tasks performed by women, and their pay rate is generally lower than that of men. The aim of the project was equal access to employment opportunity in road improvement work for both men and women, and genderneutral rates of remuneration.
- Road improvement is hazardous work. It endangers workers’ physical safety, health, and overall well-being. For example, the social stability of road workers is often impacted by long periods of separation from family. Ensuring the wellbeing of workers and their families is critical to the success of infrastructure initiatives such as road improvement projects. This can take many forms, such as providing shelter near work sites with water and sanitation facilities, basic health care services, and schools for the children of construction workers.
ADB processes and management tools:
- Specifying equal access to employment in road improvement as an explicit project objective increases project benefits accruing women.
- Explicit targets regarding women’s access to capacity-building inputs, such as training in the provision of basic health services and promotion of sanitation in rural communities contributes to long-term project benefits accruing to rural women, their families, and project beneficiary communities overall.
This case study is part of the ADB publication Gender Equality Results Case Studies: Bhutan that provide an overview of gender issues in selected sectors of developing member countries.