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Bangladesh champion on rural accessibility index among developing countries: WB report

 Special Correspondent

On November 2016, the World Bank has released a report on rural accessibility index. This report reviewed the progress of rural accessibility and poverty indices amongst eight developing countries of South Asia and Africa in aligned with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report mentioned Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in achieving rural accessibility comparing other countries of South Asia and Africa. Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) of Bangladesh is one of the architects of the landslide success.

Rural Accessibility Index is a perceptual index used by the World Bank since 2006 to evaluate progress of rural accessibility. SDGs adopted in 2015 and the goal of it 9 and the target-1 stated “develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans border infrastructure to support economic development and human well-being with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all”.

The target is being assessed based on the connectivity of rural people with the high quality paved roads within two kilometers from their locale. In recent, The World Bank set a new Rural Accessibility Index (RIA) and to set it they have conducted a first study titled “New Rural Access Index: Main Determinants and Correlations to Poverty” where data analyzed and compared amongst eight developing countries of South Asia and Africa including Bangladesh, Nepal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The study report shows Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in rural accessibility index comparing other developing countries of Asia and Africa. Bangladesh secured rural accessibility index score 86.7. Amongst others Nepal secured score 54.2, Ethiopia 21.6, Kenya (56.5), Mozambique 20.4, Tanzania 24.6, Uganda, 53.1 and Zambia 64.1. It is mentionable that due to the lack of GIS data India and many other countries did appear in the analysis.

The World Bank remarked the achievement in rural accessibility index adequately supports Bangladesh to reduce poverty and achieve Millennium Development Goals.

Chief Engineer of LGED Shyama Prosad Adikari mentioned though India did not appear in the study, but I may firmly say our progress on RAI is better than India. Recently, Director of Institute of Local Administration, Kerala, India visited LGED and recognized the achievement. He informed that the institute invited honorable minister, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives of Bangladesh Mr. Khandker Mosharraf Hossain and the Chief Engineer of LGED  Shyama Prosad Adhikari to attend an upcoming conference on Local Government and Development to be held in Kerala on 18-19 November 2016. He further added, India tests LGED model to replicate it in India. Meanwhile, the World Bank recommends many Asian and African countries to follow LGED Model to operate programmes. Once, the rural communications system of Nepal was very weak. In 2000, Nepal established a Department of Local Infrastructure and Agricultural Roads (DoLiDAR) following LGED model. The LGED model immensely helps Nepal to achieve its recent success in rural communications.

He informed that there are 321,100 kilometers rural roads in Bangladesh. From 1980 decades, LGED works to categorize and prioritize rural roads and continuing operations. The roads are classified in three categories i.e. upazila roads, union roads and village roads. Upazila and union roads construct to establish direct connections amongst the rural administration, health cen           ters, hatbazars, school-college and economic growth centers. Till date, out of total 88% of upazila roads and 66% of union roads have been paved in Bangladesh. As a result, a strong connectivity established amongst the rural economic centres, health services and educational institutions. Today, the connectivity is the prime mover of rural economy in Bangladesh.

Simultaneously, the World Bank study revealed 86.7% villages of Bangladesh are interconnected with the paved roads within two kilometers and finally with the highways. The rural accessibility network is now considered as a threshold of uplifting Bangladesh economy in the middle range. At present, LGED designs and implements projects to foster on-going rural economic growth through widening and improving quality roads and addressing rural road safety issues. ###

Rural roads is not only the roads, it’s a means of employment, livelihood and prosperous of lives. This country-wide network is supporting to reduce poverty

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