WASHINGTON, March 6, 2017 – Nicaraguan farmers, ranchers, transport and micro entrepreneurs, 51 percent of them women, will benefit from improved roads financed through a new credit approved today by the World Bank Board of Directors. The US$ 96.8 million credit will support efforts of the Nicaraguan government to improve safe and sustainable access to markets and services for nearly 550,000 residents of urban and rural areas of the country.
The Rural and Urban Access Improvement Project proposes the expansion and construction of new roads and the rehabilitation and maintenance of existing ones. It will also promote an immediate, effective response in the event of natural disasters. Of the total beneficiaries, 370,000 are direct beneficiaries. Fifty-one percent of beneficiaries are women and 50 percent reside in rural areas.
“Our main objective is to promote women’s equitable participation and empowerment in different stages of project implementation,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Pablo Martínez. “This financing will also help create jobs in the short and medium term for residents in areas surrounding the project sites, for skilled and unskilled workers as well as for experienced professionals.”
Road network quality has improved in Nicaragua in recent years, but deficiencies persist, which limit mobility and hinder productive activities, particularly in the poorer, more remote areas of the country. With this project, micro entrepreneurs, drivers and passengers will benefit from improved traffic on the highways. Trips will be shorter and more comfortable, which will have a positive impact on production given the lower costs of vehicle operation and improved delivery of products.
The project includes innovative activities aimed at strengthening road safety in the country, which consist of addressing road safety measures in road accident hazardous spots, strengthening the institutional capacity of road safety management, and increasing the resilience of vulnerable points of the road network to climate change impacts. In addition, resources will be allocated for institutional strengthening, increased efficiency, and improved care in human quality and time for the population.
“This project will be developed based on the lessons learned and results of previous transport projects we have financed in Nicaragua. We are now expanding to new areas of commitment such as the immediate response component: Given that Nicaragua is a country that is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change phenomena, we will work to ensure that the government can immediately access eligible resources in the event of a crisis or emergency. We also plan to raise the climate change resilience of vulnerable points of the road network,” said Luis Constantino, World Bank Representative for Nicaragua.
The project includes the construction and expansion of two trunk highways with access to the capital, which will help reduce traffic congestion in an area where a large share of the country’s international transport takes place.
Additionally, five sections totaling 46.2 kilometers of key rural roads will be paved, which will guarantee access of the rural population to basic services. Finally, routine maintenance activities will be extended to cover some 200 kilometers of paved rural roads.
The financing is part of a combined financial agreement, including a 25-year credit for US$ 46.8 million from the International Development Agency (IDA), with a five-year grace period. It also includes an IDA Scale-Up Facility (SUF) Credit for US$50 million, for a period of 30 years, including a nine-year grace period. The end date is June 30, 2022.
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