LGED: Activities of sustainable rural infrastructure improvement project

--M. A. Akhtar Hossain, Project Director

Background: Project Entity and Financial Summary

  • Funding Agency: I) Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • II) KfW
  • III) Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR)
  • Sponsoring Ministry/Division: Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development & Co-operatives/ Local Government Division
  • Executing Agency: Local Government Engineering Department
  • Total Project Cost: BDT 75251.40 Lac (US$ 109.06 million)
  • Amount of ADB Loan: BDT 41,400.00 lac (US$ 60.00 million)
  • Amount of Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) Grant: BDT 10971.00 lac (US$ 15.90 million / Euro 13.00 million)
  • Amount of JFPR Grant: BDT 345.00 lac (US$ 0.5 million)
  • Amount of GOB: BDT 22,535.40 lac (US$ 32.66 million)

Project Implementation Period: 01 January 2011 to 30 June 2016

Project Area and Targeted People: Project Description

7.

The Project will enhance the accessibility of the rural people to the markets and economic opportunities in 21 districts of north and west Bangladesh. The 21 districts are (i) Kushtia, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Jessore, Jhenidah Narail and Magura in Khulna Division (ii): Rajshahi,Natore, Joypurhat, Bogra, Naogaon and Chapai Nawabgonj in Rajshahi Division and (iii): Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Nilphamari, Dinajpur, Rangpur,  Gaibandha, Kurigram, and Lalmonirhat in Rangpur Division. Widening the access to markets and economic opportunities will culminate in improving the earnings, access to basic services like health and education of the rural poor.  By improving rural infrastructure (roads and growth center markets [GCMs]), gender equity, peoples participation, training programs and improved local governance the urban and rural dichotomy can be abridged. Development of rural areas shall be achieved by targeting poor areas, closely involving the underprivileged and other stakeholders in implementing subprojects and maintaining rural infrastructure, and strengthening the capability of local institutions.

Project Goal

Increase rural income and reduce rural poverty through sustainable economic growth, rural development, social & gender development and improved infrastructure in the project area.

Project Objectives

The objective of the project is to (i) promote overall development of the transportation system by improving Upazila and Union roads, development of Growth Centres (rural markets), and building drainage structures (culvert and bridges) on Upazila and Union roads. Develop socio-economic condition of the rural people by providing assistance for higher agricultural production and their marketing; (ii) Help the rural people in poverty reduction effort by reducing the transport cost, developed marketing system, increase of sustainable agricultural production, and creating short and long term employment opportunities in agricultural and nonagricultural sectors; (iii) Strengthen the institutional capacity of LGED and other Local Government Institutions to help develop a sound criteria for operation and maintenance of the rural roads, markets / growth centres etc; (iv) Encourage women’s participation in tree plantation and care-taking activities including the development of rural markets and growth centres and off-pavement maintenance activities of developed roads and to ensure equal payment to women for same nature of work comparing with men; (v) Increase Local Employment Opportunities throughout the project period by developing the different components.

Project Components and Output

Component 1: Road Connectivity Improved

The project will upgrade 700 km of upazila roads and 100 km of union roads to bitumen-surfaced standard to provide all-weather “green” road connectivity between agricultural production areas and GCMs to the other parts of the country. Greening the roads will be mainstreamed to create a green belt and avenues. The design of the roads will be “climate-proof” in reaction to the challenges of climate change. Cross drainage structures, such as, bridges and culverts with a total length of 3,270 meters will be constructed. Provisions for road safety such as road signs, delineators and bollards near the approach to bridges, and reflectors added to tree trunks and provision of loading and unloading zones will be incorporated into the design of upazila roads. Women belonging to labor contracting societies (LCSs) will be engaged to improve road shoulders, embankment stabilization, planting trees on roadsides, planting of shrubs on embankment, and other road maintenance works.

Component 2: Marketing Facilities Upgraded with Specific Provision for Women

Infrastructure of 92 Growth Center Markets (GCMs) will be improved with women market sections in 50 markets. A participatory approach will be employed in identifying the GCM where women market section will be constructed. The markets will be provided with paved trading areas, sheds, improved water supply system, adequate drainage facilities, sanitation facilities, and market offices. At each GCM, a market management committee will be responsible for ensuring proper physical and financial maintenance works and arranging requisite funds .

Three GCMs have been selected for piloting rural piped water supply (one each in three divisions of Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur). The goal is to find out a sustainable management model involving both the community and local government to operate and maintain piped water supply in rural markets where safe water availability is a problem. The community will be engaged to participate in planning, construction and operation and maintenance of this mini piped water supply system.

Three GCMs have been selected for piloting renewable energy supply in three divisions of Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur. In the selected GCMs at present no electricity supply is available and the Rural Electrification Board has no plans in the near future of providing the electricity. In these 3 markets the shops including women market sections, toilets and street lighting will be electrified using solar photovoltaic cells. The beneficiaries will be trained on judicious use and maintenance of the system and the responsibility of maintaining the system by paying the maintenance charges.

Component 3: Rural Infrastructure Management Improved

The project will upgrade rural the infrastructure management capacity of Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and other Local Government Institutions (LGIs). For LGED, the institutional capacity of the staff will be improved through various training program in contract management, financial management, participatory planning, construction supervision, sustainable maintenance and management, the planning and implementation of climate resilient infrastructure (based on a climate vulnerability mapping), quality control, information technology, gender and development, and monitoring and evaluation. The train program for LGI officials including union parishad chairman, Members, and upazila officials, and members of the management committees of GCMs will cover the roles and responsibilities of local governments, sustainable road maintenance, financial management, poor and indigenous people’s participation in local decision making, and participatory planning. The training program will be supplemented by on-the-job training and awareness campaigns for key target groups on road safety and climate change/environmental issues.

Component 4: Incentive based Infrastructure

Based on performance standards related to women’s participation in the Local Governments, 20 Union parishads will have access to funds for infrastructure development. For this purpose, $1 million has been exposed  aside to use with pilot participants for additional infrastructure investments, if the performance criteria are met. The union parishads in the pilot that will meet the agreed performance standards will receive funds of up to $45,000 each for infrastructure activities, such as, constructing  bridges or culverts, upgrading rural market structures, and installing solar panels to provide lighting for a rural market. The union parishads are to  manage the infrastructure investment by thesaurus when technical support is to come from of LGED.

A Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) Technical Assistance (TA) of $0.50 millionhas been proposed in supporting innovative and gender-related practices in rural governance, to foster women’s participation in Union Parishad structures and processes, including those related to management of rural infrastructure and transparency of safety net programs.

Component 5: Sustainable Road Maintenance System

The project will pilot sustainable road maintenance in 3 high traffic volume roads one in each Division and prepare a sustainable road maintenance plan. The detailed modus operandi and the implementation guidelines of the piloting process of road user charges collection will be prepared considering the stakeholders’ opinion, sentient  to administrative and procedural approval from the Government.

Component 6: Climate Change Resilient Infrastructure

The project will mainstream climate risk reduction into policy formulation and infrastructure development. A key feature is climate proofed  and disaster resilient designs for rural infrastructure to ensure that upgraded roads are less vulnerable to floods, storm surge, landslides and impacts of other extreme weather events. Main activities include preparing a climate change resilient infrastructure management plan, a climate vulnerability mapping of rural areas (with a focus on the project areas) and designing and introducing adaptation strategies for roads to improve flood and drought management.

Development Opportunities of the Project

The Project will help reduce poverty by about 6 percentage points from 42.7% in the intervention areas; about 28,500 person-years jobs (30% women) will be created by the -construction of project facilities; estimated 3,600 person-years of jobs will be created for poor women in road maintenance. In addition, long-term employment and business opportunities in around 500 shops and open stalls in GCMs will be created for women. Indirect project benefits likely to facilitate poverty reduction are increased in farm income, higher crop yields resulting from improvement in the availability and use of fertilizer and other inputs.

The Project will also contribute to poverty reduction through a number of indirect, unquantifiable ways: (i) the availability of improved transport will facilitate the migration of underemployed farm labor to alternative employment opportunities; (ii) the cost-effective transport of produce will help farm producers realize higher farm gate prices and access to agricultural inputs; (iii) improved roads will enable easy access to rural areas for service providers; and (iv) the additional traffic volume will give rise to transport-related ancillary services and other businesses-. Improved capacity of the local governments in running their affairs in a participatory manner will benefit there empower the poor, especially women.

Activities of the project will directly and indirectly help in the increase of agricultural production. Improved road communication and better marketing facilities will help in rapid supply of inputs for use in agriculture and marketing of surplus agriculture products. It will facilitate agricultural production and make the farmer, rural poor to get reasonable price of their the  produce. It is expected that farmers will be interested to produce as such various crops than before.

Implementation Responsibilities

The Executing Agency will be Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) in the Local Government Division of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development, and Cooperatives. A project steering committee will provide overall policy guidance for project implementation. The committee will meet twice a year to review the progress of project implementation. The Project will be implemented by a suitably staffed project management office (PMO), to be established by LGED at its headquarters in Dhaka.  The PMO will be assisted by consultants with expertise in various discolors . The LGED district offices, will be responsible for implementing subprojects under the guidance of the PMO.