Viet Nam's Poorest Provinces granted $108 Million to Improve Rural Infrastructure

MANILA, PHILIPPINES, Oct 25, 2010 (Washington Bangla Radio) MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank's (ADB's) Board of Directors today approved a $108 million assistance package to upgrade rural roads and irrigation systems in some of Viet Nam's poorest areas.

The assistance specifically targets 15 mountainous provinces in northern Viet Nam where more than one in four families live in poverty.

Many rural mountainous communities lack productive rural infrastructure that results in physical isolation and limits their access to economic opportunities and services, which directly contributes to high poverty levels.

The project will support the upgrade of 600 kilometers of rural roads, and better irrigation for 12,400 hectares of farmland.

"This project will help farming communities boost their rice yield by 25%, and make it possible for them to respond to market demands and diversify to more profitable crops," said David Salter, Rural Development Specialist in ADB's Southeast Asia Department. "Travel time, effort and costs will be reduced by an average of 55% while transport reliability will be increased enabling farmers strategic marketing options."

While Viet Nam's has three million hectares of farmland that is equipped with irrigation facilities, one million hectares of this land is not currently being irrigated.

Many irrigation schemes are in need of rehabilitation, and one-third of the country's 50,000 kilometers of irrigation canals are not lined, resulting in significant water loss.

"Improved irrigation and water management is critical for Viet Nam's food security, particularly in the face of rising food demands and the worsening effects of climate change," said Mr. Salter.

In northern mountainous areas of Viet Nam, less than 10% of roads are currently paved, while distances to social services are greater than the national average.

"Roads are lifelines for these families," said Mr. Salter. "Good roads give rural people access to work in towns and cities to supplement and counter the cyclical incomes of farming.They also give women and the elderly better access to medical care, and make it easier for children to get to, and stay in, school."

The ADB-supported project will also upgrade ten rural commune markets to bolster local commerce.