Rural Infrastructure Upgrades Focus of $37.7M Proposal

The Asian Development Bank is considering funding a $37.7 million rural development project in 13 districts in four northwest pro­vinces that could affect a half million people, a consultant to the ADB said.

The largest part of the proposal involves extending a network of rural roads to improve access to districts in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Me­an­chey and Siem Reap pro­vinces. Of­ficials estimate that 600 km of road rehabilitation will be funded.

“Life is pretty tough for people in these 13 districts,” said Kevin Rutter, team leader for institutional development at the consultative group Agrisystems Ltd.

He spoke Monday at a workshop on the project at the Hotel Le Royal. Ruttter noted that people in the northwest provinces remain poor despite the prevailing peace in Cambodia.

Other infrastructure improvements include renovation and con­struction of 180 village wells, numerous health centers and some 360 school rooms within the four provinces.

The plan’s final component is $1.5 million worth of micro enterprise development. This money will be used to fund small business enterprises and to set up “sav­ings groups” to encourage savings accounts for funds, ac­cording to a project report submitted by Agrisystems Ltd.

The proposal came out of a five-month study conducted by Agri­systems Ltd in conjunction with the Ministry of Rural Devel­opment. The study found inadequate in­fra­structure throughout these districts, especially trans­por­tation links, water supplies and public facilities and services.

Ngy Chanphal, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Rural Development, said that while he hopes the plan will focus on social and economic development, as well as improve infrastructure, he is pleased with the project.

“Improving accessibility is important to reduce poverty,” Ngy Chanphal said.

No date has set for an ADB de­cision on the project, Rutter said.


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