Nepal is a small, landlocked but relatively populous country in South Asia, with about 28 million people. Its mountainous topography— includes Mt. Everest and eight of the world’s ten highest peaks—gave rise to a rich diversity of geography, religions and culture.
Nepal's rugged terrain prevent people from moving with ease. Nepal’s road network and quality are among the lowest in South Asia. More than one-third of its people live at least a two hours walk from the nearest all-season road; 15 out of 75 district headquarters are not connected by road. In addition, some 60% of road network and most rural roads are not operable during the rainy season.
Hence improving these non-operable roads to an all-weather standard and implementing a maintenance system is essential for Nepal’s economic growth and social welfare.
World Bank’s Role
To help address this problem, the World Bank committed $32 million in 2005 to improve rural roads to provide greater access to markets, schools, and health clinics. The Rural Access Improvement and Decentralization Project (RAIDP) - now active in 20 of 75 districts – focuses especially on remote, rural, and hilly areas of the country.
To date the project has rehabilitated and upgraded 540 kilometers of existing dry-season rural roads to all-season standard. Additionally the remote hill project districts have upgraded another 38 kilometers to dry-season standard. The project financed maintenance of about 3,500 kilometers of rural roads, constructed 102 trail bridges, and developed small community infrastructures.
A survey of five completed roads found an increase of more than 20% in motorized and non-motorized trips during the first year of operations. Similarly, travel time for road users was cut from an average trip time of 2.6 hours to 32 minutes.