World Bank pro­vides ad­di­tional sup­port to Afghanistan’s NERAP

The Pak Banker - - Company & Boss News -

WASHINGTON: The World Bank ap­proved an ad­di­tional $40 mil­lion grant to con­tinue sup­port­ing the Govern­ment of Afghanistan's on­go­ing ef­forts to pro­vide year­round ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties in ru­ral ar­eas.

The Afghanistan Na­tional Emer­gency Ru­ral Ac­cess Project (NERAP), launched in 2002 as one of four Na­tional Pri­or­ity Pro­grams, has re­ha­bil­i­tated some 10,370 kilo­me­ters of ru­ral roads con­nect­ing 8,726 vil­lages in 358 dis­tricts of Afghanistan's 34 prov­inces, re­duc­ing travel times and in­creased ru­ral Afghans' ac­cess to key ser­vices. The project has also re­ha­bil­i­tated 15,000 hectares of land by im­prov­ing ir­ri­ga­tion and drainage while pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­pov­er­ished ru­ral men, cre­at­ing around 700,000 tem­po­rary jobs over a month-long pe­riod while fa­cil­i­tat­ing rein­te­gra­tion of ex-com­bat­ants into so­ci­ety.

"Im­prov­ing road ac­cess for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties is im­por­tant for so­cial and eco­nomic devel­op­ment," said HE Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, Is­lamic Re­pub­lic of Afghanistan. "For ex­am­ple, im­proved roads will en­able the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to im­ple­ment its pro­grams more eas­ily. Bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity also gives vil­lagers bet­ter ac­cess to health fa­cil­i­ties. Farm­ers will have im­proved ac­cess to mar­kets, sup­port­ing vil­lage eco­nomic devel­op­ment."

De­spite these ef­forts, ru­ral poverty re­mains high as the coun­try re­cov­ers from the long-term ef­fects of decades of con­flict and 6 years of drought. More in­vest­ments are needed to im­prove the ru­ral road net­work and of­fer year round ac­cess to ba­sic so­cial and ad­min­is­tra­tive ser­vices along with pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to the es­ti­mated 70 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion that still lack these pro­vi­sions.

"Afghanistan's progress in de­vel­op­ing its ru­ral road net­work is com­mend­able", said Ni­cholas J. Krafft, World Bank Coun­try Di­rec­tor for Afghanistan. "Where roads have been re­ha­bil­i­tated, travel time has re­duced con­sid­er­ably and more ru­ral Afghans now have eas­ier ac­cess to key ser­vices such as ed­u­ca­tion, health as well as mar­kets. How­ever many chal­lenges re­main, in­clud­ing scal­ing up on the suc­cesses achieved so far. The Bank is happy to sup­port the Govern­ment in its ef­forts to make ru­ral Afghanistan ac­ces­si­ble to all."

NERAP is one part of the broader ef­fort by the Govern­ment of Afghanistan to re­ha­bil­i­tate its ex­ist­ing road net­work. Since 2002 with sup­port from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, the Govern­ment of Afghanistan has em­barked on a mas­sive na­tion­wide rehabilitation pro­gram of the ex­ist­ing core road net­work of 34,700 km. This core net­work con­sists of 3,300 km of re­gional high­ways (3,100 km paved and 200 km gravel), 4,800 km of na­tional high­ways (2,800 km paved and 2,000 km gravel), 9,600 km of pro­vin­cial roads (1,400 km paved and 8,200km gravel), and of sec­ondary ru­ral roads 17,000km (480 km paved and 16,820 km gravel. -PB News

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