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More than 3 billion people, including 70% of the world's poor people live in rural areas.  The rural population comprises 21% of all people living in the Latin America and Caribbean Region, 71% in South Asia and 64% in Sub-Saharan Africa (World Development Indicators, 2008 data). 

East Asia and Pacific
Europe & Central Asia
Latin America and Caribbean
Middle East & North Africa 


The Bank is directly supporting a number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to improve their rural accessibility indices through stand alone transport or rural road projects which target road network accessibility and connectivity. For example, in Nigeria the Bank is supporting the $60 million Rural Access and Mobility Project in Kaduna State that entails the construction of about 130 river crossings spread across the entire state and over 400 km of rural roads in selected parts of the state. In Mali the Bank is funding the $90 million Second Transport Project which supports the rehabilitation and reconstruction of about 2,150 km of critical rural roads throughout the country. In Burkina Faso the Bank is funding the $92.1 million Transport Sector Project which supports the rehabilitation and reconstruction of over 3,000 km of critical rural roads throughout the country.
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East Asia & Pacific
Despite urbanization becoming a trend in the EAP region and emphasis increasingly being put on urban transport as well as other emerging sub-areas such as aviation, rural transport still remains as a main pillar of Bank’s transport sector activities across the region because of its critical role in poverty reduction. Among IDA countries such as Vietnam, Lao PDR, and Cambodia, Bank-financed dedicated rural transport projects are under implementation and coming into the pipeline constantly. In mid-income countries like China, Bank provides strong support to rural road development. Besides regular lending projects, we are also actively engaging with the clients in shaping national rural transport strategies and cooperating with other donors in the rural transport area.
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Europe & Central Asia
Much of the emphasis in the road sector in ECA countries in recent years has been on rehabilitation, upgrading, and new construction on the primary road network to provide a network suitable for the needs of a market economy, to address years of neglect, and to try and ensure that those roads that carry the majority of traffic are in reasonable conditions. However, the level of expenditure necessary for the construction of new primary roads, sometimes to motorway standard, and the rehabilitation and upgrading of primary roads, means that the secondary and tertiary roads networks have generally received little attention, and been allocated limited resources.
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Latin America & Caribbean
Rural road programs have been found to have a direct impact on rural poverty, an impact which can be enhanced when rural roads are combined with other types of rural infrastructure, as part of territorial development strategies - there are several ongoing programs in Central and Southern America, whose impact include improved livelihoods. Routine maintenance is essential to ensure the sustainability of rural roads and maintenance activities can also generate significant employment opportunities for men and women from poor communities living aside from the roads - the LAC region has successfully implemented several micro-enterprise programs. The region also incorporates several social dimensions such as attention to HIV/AIDs in close collaboration with health colleagues, as well as road safety education for local communities. The LAC approach is to ensure that rural transport improvement is sustainable and fundamentally integrated into the range of development programs to improve livelihoods in rural areas.
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Middle East & North Africa
Transport is critical in rural areas for accessing markets, health centers, schools and other social and administrative services, and populations without affordable and dependable transport are generally poorer. For many rural communities in the MENA countries, especially those with a large rural population such as Morocco and Egypt, all-weather access is limited by the poor condition of rural road networks and the inadequacy of basic transport services. With only 22% of the rural population living within two kilometers of an all-weather road, access in Yemen is as bad as in the poorest countries of the world. The World Bank has been supporting rural roads projects in MENA, particularly in Morocco and Yemen.
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South Asia
South Asia lacks of adequate access to basic social and economic services in rural areas. Poor access to transport infrastructure and services leaves hundreds of millions of people in South Asian countries without access to basic social and economic services. The World Bank has strongly supported the provision of rural roads to improve rural accessibility. Many countries have National Rural Access Programs (multi-donor programs executed jointly by the stakeholder Ministries). These programs generally attract many donors for their proven record of delivery, efficiency and reaching out to the rural poor, both in the provision of year round access to essential social services and generation of the much needed employment.
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publicationRURAL ROAD

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