Department of Local Infrastructure Development and Agricultural Roads-Nepal
Project: Rural Access Programme (RAP), Nepal
Nepal suffers from acute poverty, with one-third living below the poverty line. Limited access to roads is a primary cause. The Department for International Development (UKAid) assists the Department of Local Infrastructure Development and Agricultural Roads on RAP, a programme aimed at reducing poverty through road building. The RAP ethos is that access does not stop at road building and complementary socio-economic interventions are an essential part of the programme. RAPâ€™s approach is labour based, environmentally friendly and participatory.
The RAP design phase began in 2000, with RAP1 implementation in 2002. This suffered from the conflict in Nepal, poor funding methods and management unable to react to difficult circumstances. With the cessation of conflict, changes to the funding mechanism and management in 2006, work progressed well. At completion in June 2008 RAP1 had successfully built 357 km of district roads and 276 km of feeder roads. RAP2 followed and aims to build 365 km of district roads. UK Aid provided Â£36 million for RAP1 and is funding Â£17 million for RAP2.
The main Consultant, WSPimc (UK) with Helvetas (Switzerland) and GEOCE (Nepal) manages RAP. Since 2006, the programme has been pre-financed through the Consultant. This innovative financing mechanism has allowed for quick and secure payments to workers, and ensures progress. WSPimc employ supervision consultants and NGOs who play a vital role in facilitating socio-economic and technical aspects of construction.
Almost 47,000 workers, in road building groups of 20 men and women, have been employed from the poorest and most disadvantaged, mostly living within 90 minutes walk from the works. Wages are paid for group tasks completed, and distributed equally among men and women. Training is provided on construction and safety skills, and also demand driven topics for income generating activities. This not only provides an immediate benefit through employment, but also the opportunity of future development and leaving the poverty trap after completion of the project.
The impact RAP road building has exceeded expectations. Among many other impacts, RAP is generating 13.4 million labour days with average income of NRs. 200 ($2.85), in addition free immunisations increased by 34%, school enrolment increased from 75% to 92%, labour migration fell by 5%, basic commodities prices fell by up to 46%, moneylender debt reduced by 73%, formal credit flow increased by 45%, and two-thirds of workers embarked on new income generating activities. The workers savings and credit schemes amount to NRs 162 million ($2.2 million), changing attitudes to saving.
RAP has provided or contributed to four major policy documents which Government has adopted and instituted nationally. Further contributions are being made other manuals and guidelines.
What makes RAP such an excellent example of road building is that it takes the construction one step further; improving livelihoods by increasing accessibility, community awareness, basic skills, and also hope of a better future. RAP supplements the road construction effort with wide scale complementary activities and training, setting it apart from most other road construction projects in developing countries.
Project Explanation (Lobbying and Advocacy Category) The Rural Access Programme (RAP) is designed to promote road transport infrastructure as a means of improving the livelihoods and economic development of the poorest in 7 out of 75 districts in Nepal. The reputation of RAP has allowed it to influence major national policies, including the Governmentâ€™s 3-year plan. The programme is essentially by the people for the people, with innovative and secure financial and technical management systems that could be replicated given the will and courage of government and donor organisations that has been shown with RAP.