ADB grant to improve rural roads Solomon Islands
Manila, Philippines – A US$16.2 million grant package should help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the national network of rural roads in Solomon Islands.
The package, comprising $350,000 from ADB’s Asian Development Fund, $6.1 million from the Government of Australia, and $9.75 million from the Government of New Zealand, will finance the rehabilitation of about 100 kilometers of provincial and secondary roads. The Government of Solomon Islands will contribute $650,000 equivalent toward the project’s total estimated cost of $16.85 million.
It will also fund improved road maintenance by developing and implementing management systems, helping to implement a national transport fund, and involving private contractors and communities in the task.
Solomon Islands, one of the least developed of ADB’s Pacific member countries, is characterized by high unemployment, especially among youth, and one of the highest population growth rates in the world. Combined with slow economic growth, this situation is exacerbating poverty in the country.
Investment in the road network, which has never been adequate, has declined in recent years, leaving the sector badly underfunded. The present road network is sparse, and does not reach 77% of the rural population. Many existing roads have deteriorated, leaving only a fifth in good condition, with the rest not passable by light vehicles.
“The rural economy needs to be revitalized if we are to ensure that sustainable economic growth is created that benefits the poor, and social and health indicators are improved,” says Robert Guild, an ADB Transport Specialist. “Better transportation infrastructure and services will help remove barriers to market access and promote rural production.”
The project will complement other ADB assistance underway – including road investments and technical assistance to improve interisland shipping and civil aviation – by creating an integrated transportation system to link rural areas to urban centers for access to markets and social services.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Development is the executing agency for the project, which will be carried out over about five years.