Rural Access Programme delivered by IMC in Nepal featured as example of UK Aid positive impact
We are pleased that the Rural Access Programme was presented as an example of the positive impact achieved by programmes funded by the Department for International Development during a UK Infrastructure and Projects Authority conference in June.
Thursday 26 July 2018
The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) is the UK government’s centre of expertise for infrastructure and major projects. Its experts in infrastructure and project delivery and finance work with government departments and industry to continuously improve the delivery of infrastructure and major projects, from railways and schools through to defence and IT.
At the end of June, IPA gathered over 80 Programme Management Leads from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in Scotland for a three-day Project Delivery Conference. DFID staff came from 28 countries where they manage projects to share lessons learned. While the projects funded by DFID are not the biggest across the government, they stand out because of the complex and challenging contexts in which they are delivered.
We are pleased that the Rural Access Programme (RAP), which IMC has implemented in Nepal since 1999, was featured as an example of an impactful DFID-funded programme. RAP, which is now in its third phase (RAP3), has built and maintained thousands of kilometres of climate-resilient rural roads that connect remote communities to markets, healthcare and education facilities.
RAP uses the construction of transport infrastructure as an entry point for improving the lives of Nepal’s poorest. It deliberately uses labour-intensive methods in road construction and maintenance to create jobs for local communities. It employs 9,000 people, 40% of whom are women. Many of them are earning a wage for the first time, which is improving their status in society. RAP also employs disadvantaged groups, such as Dalits, who are traditionally regarded as untouchable.
Over 75% of RAP’s construction costs are represented by wages, based on an ‘equal wage for equal work’ principle. This income allows people to better manage food security difficulties during periods of famine, have access to healthcare, send their children to school and generally raise their standard of living.
Moreover, RAP has established group saving and credit schemes to ensure productive use of waged income, which can support people even after road works end. These have fostered the development of a savings culture and provide the seed money for fixed interest inter-group lending, which offer an alternative to the exorbitant rates charged by loan sharks.
In 2016, RAP took on a socioeconomic component, called CONNECT, that links Nepal’s poor to income-generating opportunities by building partnerships between farmers, banks, multinationals and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
CONNECT has helped over 3,000 subsistence farmers to enter long-term agreements with businesses and shift to commercial agriculture. Our partnership with Unilever has resulted in the appointment of hundreds of female rural sales agents, which provide remote communities with essential products. We also guide our partner MSMEs to scale by linking them with national retailers and international importers.
RAP3 has attracted £518,000 in private sector investment at the rate of £2.50 for each pound of UK aid invested.
Key performance indicators increase donor accountability, hold multilateral development banks to account and ensure money goes to projects that are likely to work. However, they are not a silver bullet and are sometimes discarded for political reasons.