Kompong Thom To Receive $16M From ADB

A $16 million Asian Develop­ment Bank aid package for irrigation and infrastructure projects in rural Kompong Thom province could boost farmers’ incomes there by as much as 40 percent, bank officials predict.

The ADB last week approved the low-interest loan to help villagers increase their agricultural productivity and income. Other organizations and the villagers themselves have already pledged $8 million toward the project.

According to the bank, the daily income of more than half of house­holds under the project’s scope is less than $0.40 per day, a figure below the nation­al poverty line.

More than 9,000 hectares of rice fields will be equipped with new irrigation systems, and about 150 km of rural roads will be renovated in communities along the Stung Chinit and Stung Tang Krasang rivers in the south-central part of the province, bank officials said.

“Effective management on water resources is critical to enhance agricultural productivity and to improve the livelihood of rural poor,” said Urooj Malik, the ADB’s country representative.

Villagers will be expected to participate in the project, which is scheduled for completion in June 2007. They will help design, build and manage rural infrastructure such as roads, markets and wa­terway systems.

“Building roads and canals is easy, but long-term success requires farmer participation in all aspects of the system, from start to finish to maintenance,” said ADB project economist Darius Teter.

Villagers will also be trained on new farming technologies and will be assisted in obtaining formal land titles to secure their economic basis, bank officials said.

The ADB will finance roughly two-thirds of the project cost. The remainder will be paid for by the French Development Agency, the government and villagers themselves. The ministries of Water Resources and Rural Develop­ment will oversee the project.

ADB has made roughly $410 million in loans to various Cambodian projects since 1992 and provided $53 million worth of technical assistance. The bank has pledged another $88 million for the coming year.



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