The World Bank has approved a $100 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) to improve access to basic services and economic opportunities in Cambodia.
The project will enhance rural communities’ access to critical services, such as health centres, 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.
Access to health and school facilities and moving goods to markets, particularly during the rainy season, has created 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 to better connect people to services, reduce disruption and generate jobs for local communities during road construction, thus supporting economic recovery,” Dobraja said.
She said that despite significant improvements in 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.
The World Bank said 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 to road connectivity.
It said that 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 prioritise those that connect households to hospitals, schools and markets. The targeted project areas includes Kampong Cham, Tboung Khmum and Kratie provinces with a population of more than 2 million people, of whom 80 percent live in rural areas,” according to the World Bank.
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 managing performance-based contracts for road maintenance to improve infrastructure sustainability.