World Bank funds M256 million footbridges project
MORE than 27 000 people from 19 hard to reach villages are set to benefit from the construction of 35 footbridges that will link them to livelihood opportunities and essential services.
This follows the World Bank’s recent decision to approve the US$ 18.3 million (about M 256 million) International Development Association (IDA) Credit for the Lesotho Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity Project (LTIC).
Through the project, the World Bank said, 19 hard to reach communities in five of Lesotho’s 10 districts will benefit from the construction of footbridges which will link them to various services including job markets and social services such as markets, schools and hospitals.
“The footbridges would be designed in a way that will enable them to withstand floods and other climate-related extreme conditions and facilitate the safe movement of females and males, young and old, as well as the disabled residing in the surrounding communities,” reads part of a recent World Bank statement.
Commenting on the project, Public Works and Transport Minister, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, said the initiative would save many lives of Basotho who at times take a risk crossing flooded rivers to access services.
“These footbridges will help save lives and also contribute to improving the quality of life through ease of accessibility to various services,” said Mr Moramotse.
For his part, World Bank Country Director for Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Paul Noumba Um, said the footbridges would address the challenges related to flooding of rivers which makes life difficult for many people.
“The success of this project will ensure that communities in the targeted areas, who used to be cut off from the rest of the country due to flooding, becomes a thing of the past,” said Mr Noumba Um.
He explained the project also sought to build the capacity for the transport sector to deal with and manage road safety issues. “The World Bank is pleased to support the Government of Lesotho in its endeavor to improve the quality of life of its people.”
The project will also assist in improving ability to respond promptly and effectively to emergencies and crisis situations. It also includes a road safety component which will support the government in addressing road safety in a more integrated manner. This will support the government’s achievement of the United Nations Global Decade of Action for Road Safety target, which is to reduce road deaths by half between 2010 and 2020.
It will further support the government in establishing an integrated vehicle registration, driver licensing and traffic management information system, and the Lesotho Integrated Transport Information System.
In addition to improving the institutional capacity of the transport sector, the project will also implement Community Engagement mechanisms as well as HIV and AIDs and gender targeted activities to change behaviors and raise awareness on the epidemic and other social issues in the targeted communities.
The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.