Kathmandu, November 14
The World Bank is providing US$155.7 million in loan and grant to Nepal to build and maintain bridges, and improve food security of vulnerable households and communities. Agreements to these effects were signed between the Washington, DC-based multilateral financial institution and the government of Nepal in Kathmandu today.
The agreements were signed by Finance Secretary Rajan Khanal and the World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, Qimiao Fan, in the presence of Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada and World Bank Vice President for South Asia Region, Hartwig Schafer.
Of the pledged amount, $133 million will be in the form of loan and $22.7 million will be in the form of grant.
“The loan would be instrumental in ensuring the well-being of the country’s strategic roads network, comprising of roughly 12,142 km of national highways, feeder roads and other roads of national importance,” a statement issued by the World Bank quotes Finance Minister Khatiwada as saying. The grant, on the other hand, will enhance the government’s capacity to deliver agriculture extension services at the decentralised level, and to diversify income opportunities of the rural poor.
“These two projects will ensure better livelihoods, access, and trade and life opportunities for thousands of Nepali people,” said Khatiwada.
The credit of $133 million will be used to finance the Second Bridges Improvement and Maintenance Programme targeting approximately 477 bridges along Nepal’s Strategic Roads Network. This includes maintenance support for approximately 90 bridges and upgrading road safety measures on approximately 180 existing bridges to help reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities. The programme will also support construction, rehabilitation or replacement of approximately 80 new two-lane bridges and 35 four-lane bridges. In addition, it will help the Department of Roads to complete construction of 92 bridges that are vital to improving connectivity and access throughout Nepal.
“We are deepening our collaboration with the government of Nepal through development and sustainability of key strategic bridges, and through enhancement of food security and nutrition programmes. They will contribute greatly to Nepal’s development storyline by addressing the need for connectivity, human capital development and shared prosperity,” said Schafer.
The grant of $22.7 million is being provided by the multi-donor Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) through the World Bank to support the Food and Nutrition Enhancement Project. The project aims to improve the health and livelihoods of approximately 65,000 direct beneficiaries in Nepal, of which 65 per cent are expected to be women.
It will work with smallholder and marginal farmers to improve their nutritional behaviour by linking it with agriculture-related and income-enhancing activities. Farmers from adjacent communities are also expected to indirectly benefit from knowledge exchanges and engagements from project-supported farmers.
A version of this article appears in print on November 15, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.