WASHINGTON, DC, July 16, 2020—The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a $100 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Cambodia Road Connectivity Improvement Project.
The project will enhance rural communities’ access to critical services, such as health centers, referral hospitals, schools and markets, through the improvement of climate-resilient rural roads. By improving selected sections of national and provincial roads, it will also reduce transportation costs and road disruption risks, helping to facilitate agriculture supply chains and tourism development.
Despite significant improvements of past years, transportation costs remain high in Cambodia. Roads are the predominant transportation mode for the country, and investments are needed, particularly in rural areas. Rural roads account for more than 75 percent of the road network, yet only 5 percent are paved. With a changing climate, heavy rainfalls and flooding pose an increasing risk of disruptions for road connectivity.
Rural accessibility analysis conducted as part of the project preparation indicates that during floods more than 26 percent of the population in the project area face risks of losing access to emergency health facilities and schools and another 18 percent would have to spend 30 minutes more in travel time to reach hospitals, even in a life-or-death situation. The selected road sections for investment prioritize those that connect households to hospitals, schools and markets. The targeted project area includes Kampong Cham, Tboung Khmum and Kratie provinces with a population of over 2 million people, of whom 80 percent live in rural areas.
“Access to health and school facilities and moving goods to markets, in particular during the rainy season, has posted great challenges for Cambodian people in rural areas,” said Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia. “The new project continues our commitment to support the development of Cambodia’s road infrastructure. It will help better connect people to services, reduce disruptions, and generate jobs for local communities during road construction, thus supporting economic recovery”
The project will also support the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Rural Development, two implementing agencies, with critical institutional development. This includes developing a resilient rural road financing strategy, supporting road safety improvements, supporting two ministries with implementation of their gender mainstreaming action plans, and managing performance-based contracts for road maintenance to improve infrastructure sustainability.