Washington DC, November 23, 2010 – The World Bank today approved US$ 75 million in additional financing to help scale up Nepal’s efforts at improving all weather road access in remote districts of the western regions and carrying out periodic maintenance of the national strategic roads network. The western districts of Nepal are among the most deprived in terms of income and food security.
The Road Sector Development Project (RSDP) began in early 2008 with an original grant of US$ 42.6 million. With the additional financing, the Government of Nepal will extend and complete the upgrading of 405 kilometers of dry season roads to all weather standard and connect the district headquarters of Darchula, Bajhang, Kalikot, Jumla Jajarkot and Rukum to country's strategic road network. These roads are in addition to the 297 kilometers being upgraded in the ongoing phase of the project. The new funds will also finance the rehabilitation of sections of roads in Dailekh, Darchula, Baitadi, Bajhang and Kalikot which were damaged by the monsoon floods last year.
“The Roads Sector Development Project has exceeded its original targets despite often difficult conditions,” said Ms. Susan Goldmark, World Bank Country Director for Nepal. “This remarkable progress speaks to the fact that roads are a high priority for people living in remote areas and that they find ways to overcome differences to achieve their collective interests. This additional financing will help over 1.4 million more Nepalis benefit from all weather roads.”
The project will also support the periodic maintenance of 2,100 kilometers of blacktop strategic roads, selected on the basis of the Government’s maintenance priorities and its annual road condition surveys.
In addition, the project will continue to support institutional strengthening of the Department of Roads and the Roads Board of Nepal, as well as support the National Vigilance Centre in carrying out technical audits of the roads.
“Nepal has the second lowest road network density in South Asia,” said Mr. Surendra Govinda Joshi, Transport Specialist, World Bank. “Only about 40 percent of the population has access to paved roads within 20 minutes walking distance. Out of 75 districts in Nepal, 17 are still deprived of all weather access to the main transport network,” he said.
The RSDP additional financing is a blend of credit (US$ 41.26 million) and grant (US$ 33.74 million) from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm.