Kyrgyz Republic: Rehabilitated Road Connects People and Farms to Opportunities and Improves Lives of Local People

September 9, 2014


World Bank Group

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Road rehabilitation works along segments of the Osh-Batken-Isfana road in the Kyrgyz Republic result in an increase and diversification of local and trans-border trade.
  • Citizens report drastic reductions in travel time and costs, better access to essential services such as healthcare, schools, markets and others, and a reduction in dust pollution.


Good roads do more than just connect places. Take the Osh-Batken-Isfana road in the Kyrgyz Republic, for example.

Rehabilitated with financial support from the World Bank, the road now helps people living in the region get to places easily, spur trade, and put key services and goods within arm’s reach, besides generating jobs, connecting families, and cutting dust pollution. The key objective of the project was to contribute to the reduction of transport costs and travel time along one of the six strategic land transportation routes of the country. The implementation of rehabilitation work along sections of the Osh-Batken-Isfana road corridor in the Kyrgyz Republic brought unprecedented changes for the better in socio-economic wellbeing of people residing along the rehabilitated road sections, says a study assessing the impacts of the works. 

Bank support towards the rehabilitation of the Osh-Batken-Isfana corridor has resulted in several positive outcomes for people living along the road, including:

  • a reduction of prices for agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers, seeds,  pest control chemicals ;
  • market accessibility and trade revitalization;
  • market diversification and availability of key goods and services;
  • new job opportunities;
  • improved social connectivity, affordability and mobility.

Most critically, the rehabilitated road helps local agricultural production, cutting travel time to markets by almost half in several cases. Many farmers also enjoy significantly better access to agricultural machinery and seasonal labor. 


" It was extremely difficult to deliver construction materials. The road was in a very bad condition. No asphalt. A truck would travel for three hours instead of one hour today. Plus, there was lots of dust. Nobody wanted to deliver to this location. …Of course, situation is different now: you ask for nails - they will home-deliver nails. "

Resident of Myn-Chinar village


Image

Rehabilitation of the Osh-Batken-Isfana road corridor in the Kyrgyz Republic brought unprecedented changes for the better in socio-economic wellbeing of people.

Photo: Natalya Iosipenko, World Bank

Improved accessibility also helps a greater number of residents sell their fresh produce in markets, preventing wastage and encouraging more frequent trips to sell perishable goods.  These local “bazaars” are critical for rural citizens – they do everything from buying and selling produce and cattle, shopping for food, medication and clothes, and finding key household goods, seeds and fertilizers at these venues. As much as 80-90% of produce is sold in local markets. Key crops like apricots and cherries are sold to cross-border buyers to be transported further to the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan.

Farmers can now avoid high transaction costs for agricultural items such as fertilizer, since the improved roads have helped them locate sellers more easily and place orders over the phone and for the fertilizer to be delivered to their farms, helping them save fuel, money and time.

Access and affordability of gasoline and diesel has also improved drastically. Previously, the price of fuel in the area was about 10-15 Kyrgyz som (KGS) more per liter than at other gas stations. Residents would also have to travel long distances (up to 25-30 km) to find a station. Now, there are at least one or two gas stations within a kilometer or two of most villages, and the price differential has dropped to about KGS 1-3 per liter.


" The number of stores in our village has increased. There were about three shops, but now we have about 10. There are more people driving and delivering goods. These shops now sell milk goods such as sour cream, kefir, and yoghurts. They also sell fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and fish. One would have never been able to buy ice cream in here, but now we buy our children ice cream, whichever they want. "

Resident of Kan village


Image

The road's rehabilitation resulted in an increase and diversification of local and international trade, significant reductions in travel time and costs, better access to essential services.

Photo: Sagyn Ailchiev, World Bank

Revitalized local markets mean more employment opportunities in trade and services related to trade and operation of local markets. Most people find jobs as drivers, construction workers, security personnel, cooks and seasonal workers who harvest rice, onions and fruits. A study on the impact of the Bank’s support shows how the project has contributed to improving access to economic opportunities through small and medium size business development between the towns of Pulgon and Batken, and between the towns of Batken and Ak-Tatyr.  

Better connected markets have also resulted in better access to essential services such as hospitals and medical care, as well as banking. This is critically important as several families in the area rely on monthly payments from migrant family members who work abroad such as in Russia or Kazakhstan. The rehabilitated road has made getting to major centers like Kadamjay and Batken and receiving cash a much easier task.

The study also found that the rehabilitation of the corridor has resulted in better social relations. In the past, high costs and difficult travel conditions were not conducive for social gatherings, such as weddings, funerals and anniversaries.


" Before, it was very difficult to catch a car on the road. If a woman was pregnant, the family would get ready well in advance. They would store about 20 liters of gas and would make advance payments to a taxi driver [about 10-15 days in advance]. About two thousand som. Now the road is not bumpy, there is a plenty of cars to catch, people go to Kadamjay every single day. One can easily travel to any location in no time. "

Resident of Kan village


Image

One of the vital results of the road reconstruction is the reduction of dust pollution, which helps to improve local population’s health and agricultural production.

Photo: Natalya Iosipenko, World Bank

Another critical result of the rehabilitation is the reduction of dust pollution, residents say. Villages closest to the old road suffered the most, especially in terms of residents' health and agricultural production. Crops had to be washed thoroughly before being taken to markets and much of the produce (berries, grapes, and apricots) were wasted in the process. Now, residents notice much less cases of respiratory diseases caused by dust; and agricultural products can be directly delivered to the market, thus reducing economic loss, which occurred while washing the dust away from the products.

Once all sections of Osh-Batken-Isfana road is fully renovated, the World Bank’s assistance to the country in rehabilitating its important road infrastructure won’t cease. The new Central Asia Road Links Project will help improve transport connectivity between the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, benefitting more than three million residents in both countries.