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These workers in southern Kazakhstan are building part of a huge road running from China to Europe.

The World Bank is financing about 1,500 kilometers of the road; the Bank’s sections employ about 30,000 people.

Though the road is far from finished, just the process of building it has led to major changes.

South Kazakhstan is the poorest and most populated area of the country. It is good for the economy when road workers spend their paychecks locally.

The road’s subcontractors spend about 1.6 million US dollars a month on raw materials, sand, gravel, petrol and food for their crews.

In the South Kazakhstan district, about 4,000 people work on the road, doing everything from quality checks to serving food.

And, local workers say, the experience they’ve gained during the construction is invaluable.

The new road will also promote tourism. Pilgrims from all over the world now have better access to the UNESCO heritage Mausoleum of Khoja Akhmed Yassaui, which dates back to the 15th century.

Some parts of the road are already finished. The road between Shymkent – Kyzylorda will be open for traffic by the end of 2013.

The whole road, running from China to Western Europe, is scheduled to be finished in 2015.

  • Slideshow: Building a Big Road Brings Big Changes in Kazakhstan
Slideshow on the results of the Kazakhstan South-West Roads Project.