World Bank approves credit for road improvement project in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH: World Bank has approved US$35 million for road improvement to withstand climate change in three provinces in , according to a press release issued last week.

The loan was approved on Mar. 15 by the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors to support the Cambodia Road Connectivity Improvement Project (RCIP), which aims to improve climate resilient road access to markets, health services, and schools across Kratie, Kampong Cham, and Thbong Khmum provinces. The three provinces have a population of over 2 million people, of whom 80 percent live in rural areas.

The RCIP channels investment to road networks in provinces that were identified by the World Bank's Country Climate and Development Report for Cambodia as extremely exposed to climate risks and that lagged with regard to pavement coverage and effective floodwater management.

The climate vulnerability of these road networks puts at risk access to critical services such as education and health care, with negative effects on the residents of these provinces that accumulate over time.

Poor road conditions also raise transportation and logistics costs for critical agriculture products produced in the targeted provinces.

This additional financing will help pay for higher-than-anticipated project costs, mainly for road works contracts. High inflation and price increases of key inputs, including fuel and bitumen, over the past three years have resulted in higher costs than estimated in 2019 before the approval of the original project.

Further, additional climate resilience interventions identified by detailed survey works and engineering designs for the project roads have further increased financing needs.

Currently, road rehabilitation works have been underway across 130 kilometres of targeted national and provincial roads, and 142 kilometres out of 270 kilometres targeted rural roads.

“Access to health and school facilities and moving goods to markets, in particular during the rainy season, has posed great challenges for Cambodian people in rural areas,” said Ms. Maryam Salim, World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia.

“Also, poor road conditions, disruptions caused by floods, and high transportation costs are major impediments to access to health care and emergency care for expectant mothers,” she said.

The project is also supporting the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Rural Development, the two implementing agencies of the project, with critical institutional development.

This includes developing a resilient rural road financing strategy, supporting road safety improvements, supporting implementation of gender mainstreaming action plans, and managing performance-based contracts for road improvement and maintenance to improve infrastructure sustainability.

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