For the last two decades, Nepal has implemented several projects to improve the rural road infrastructure paving the way to connect the rural and urban areas. Among them, the Decentralized Rural Infrastructure and Livelihood Project-Additional Financing (DRLIP-AF) has shown the way to achieve the target by involving the community.
Many people may not notice as they drive on the Katari-Okhaldhunga and Okhaldhunga-Solu road that it was expanded under the support from DRLIP-AF.
The entire work on Okhaldhnuga-Solu section, however, was the sole contribution of DRLIP. With the completion of the road, it has not only connected the remote areas with the rest of Nepal but also contributed to expand hydropower projects in the region.
With the completion of the roads, several hydropower projects are now under construction in Solu Corridor, with a capacity of over 200 MW.
As the DRILP-AF comes to an end, it has left behind many good impressions in the country. When the project started twelve years ago, the existence of rural roads was very nominal in the region. Now, it connects the people of 18 remote hill districts with rest of Nepal. The project is the continuation of former DRILP, which covers 18 remote hill and mountain districts.
The project has over 700 kilometers of graveled road to its credit that can be made operational all round the year given the nominal investment for blacktopping.
With a total cost of US$ 66.45 million, which includes ADB loan of US$ 18 million and grant US$ 7 million, co-financing with OFID loan of US$ 20 million, SDC US$ 7.06 million and Nepal government of US$13.29 million and beneficiaries US$1.10,the project has achieved more than 100 percent of physical progress. Approved in 2011, the project is closing on June 30, 2017.
“This is one of the successful projects which can be replicated in different parts of the country. A total of 1211.0 kilometers of district road core network has been maintained against the target of 1200 kilometers. Twelve annual road maintenance plan are under implementation. We have built 257 trail-bridges with the total length of 16382 against the target of 6500 meters,” said project coordinator Tanka Prasad Khanal. "This is one of the successful road projects so far implemented in Nepal.”
According to Khanal, 223.5 kilometers of new construction, 105 km upgrading and 152 km finishing works to make the road vehicle pliable were initiated by the project. A total of 208 km new road construction, 99 km upgrading and 150 km road finishing works have been substantially completed.
Addressing the program, joint secretary at the Ministry of Local Development and Federal Affairs Jeevan Kumar Shrestha said that this is a model project for road development in Nepal. “The government has now to sanction budget to maintain over 700 kilometers road prepared by the project,” said Shrestha.
Director General of Department of Local Infrastructure Development and Agriculture Roads (DoLIDAR) Ram Krishna Sapkota said that this road has immensely contributed to Nepal’s overall development. "We have constructed over 700 kilometers of road all over the country. This project has set an example in completing the work in time,” said Sapkota.
Along with building rural connectivity, the road also helps improve the livelihood of people, enhancing the capacity of over 3000 people, mainly women, poor and excluded communities.
Senior Social Development Officer of Asian Development Bank Laxmi Prasad Subedi said the success achieved by the project is now exemplary in the development projects of Nepal. "As Asian Development Bank is increasing its budget in infrastructure development, particularly road, Nepal can benefit from it,” said Subedi.
Aman Jonchhe from Swiss Development Cooperation said that Nepal’s development partners can learn a lot from this project in future on how to conduct a project successfully.
Many projects come and go, but DRLIP has created a good example of how to get optimum benefits even with small investments.