Poor rural people in three northwest provinces will be supplied with shovels to maintain
600 kilometers of gravel and earth roads, in a new poverty reduction project organized
by the Asian Development Bank and funded by the Japanese government.
The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will pay for shovels and wages to maintain secondary
and tertiary roads in areas adjacent to the rehabilitation of highways 5 and 6 between
Poipet and Siem Reap, and installation of 45 new bridges on provincial roads 56 and
The chosen provinces - Battambang, Pailin and Banteay Meanchey - are characterized
by having largely rural populations with a high incidence of poverty.
Peter Broch, an ADB transport economist, said the project will pilot test sustainable
low-cost road maintenance and contribute to poverty reduction.
He said it was expected to reduce poverty by 5-10 percent in areas where the roads
were maintained and generate about 18,800 jobs.
"The 5-10 percent is based on a rough estimate of the number of people living
along the roads that will be maintained under the project. The 18,800 jobs is an
estimate based on the road maintenance cost," said Broch.
He said jobs would be created by replacing mechanized road maintenance with local
labor who would be paid the local minimum legal wage, although he was unable to state
"Whether better roads does reduce poverty is debated; personally I think there
is compelling evidence that improved roads leads to increased economic activity but
not everybody agrees. In this case we are only considering the direct impact of project-created
"In the long run, if the project establishes a sustainable road maintenance
system, it will open up permanent access to services and income for rural communities."-
One of the objectives was to increase the pool of skilled private small-scale contractors
available to service roads. "The growing number of rehabilitated roads makes
maintenance urgent, especially gravel and earthen rural roads that will deteriorate
in a few years if not regularly maintained," said Broch.