The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $ 200 million International Development Association (IDA) credit under the IDA17 Scale-up Facility for Zambia to improve selected rural roads in six of Zambia’s ten provinces. Government will finance the remaining four provinces.
According to the Rural Access Index, only 17 percent of rural population live within 2 km of a good road in Zambia, leaving about 7.5 million rural residents unconnected to the road network in the country. The Improved Rural Connectivity Project will benefit 460,000 people in the targeted rural areas.
“The Improved Rural Connectivity Project is significant for Zambia, because it will improve connectivity in rural areas where poverty levels are particularly high,” said Ina Ruthenberg, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia. “Besides the project providing improved connectivity to schools, markets, health facilities, and jobs for the rural communities, it has the transformational potential of positioning Zambia as the regional food basket, contributing towards economic diversification.”
The project supports the Government’s development priorities as reflected in the National Development Plan and Vision 2030.The majority of the rural population in Zambia depend on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. The funds for this project will facilitate agricultural development in the country by improving farmers’ accessibility to markets.
“The project will also contribute towards addressing institutional capacity challenges, particularly in the area of road maintenance and road safety in Zambia, where feeder roads are largely in poor condition,” said Justin Runji, World Bank Senior Transport Specialist.
Zambia’s is currently serviced by a road network of 67,671 km; rural roads are in poor conditions making it difficult for small scale farmers to access markets for their produce.