WB’s ACCESS project improving infrastructure in Nepal

“One of the core elements of the ACCESS project, funded by the WorldBank, is the Green Resilient Highway Corridor Concept. It aims to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable individuals and increase the climate resilience of ecosystems and transportation infrastructure”, World Bank’s director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka—Faris H Hadad Zervos.

“One of the core elements of the ACCESS project, funded by the WorldBank, is the Green Resilient Highway Corridor Concept. It aims to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable individuals and increase the climate resilience of ecosystems and transportation infrastructure”, World Bank’s director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka—Faris H Hadad Zervos.

This motivating remark, made a year ago by Mr Dhananjaya Paudyal, Joint Secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Environment, served as the starting point for what would develop into a strong partnership between WB and government to break through the status quo while planning a transport and trade connectivity project.

It is well known that Nepal is one of the nations most susceptible to climate change, which hurts transportation networks and infrastructure dependability. Climate-related damage to the country’s road network, which carries 90% of all passenger and cargo traffic, significantly impacts communities and the nation’s economy. For weeks at a time, supply chains for agriculture and manufacturing and access to jobs and essential services are disrupted. Repairing the vital road network in Nepal after climatic disasters such as significant flooding and landslides is projected to cost NPR 3-6 billion (US$25-50 million) yearly. However, this figure soars when indirect socio-economic costs associated with long-term interruption are included. Thus, it is crucial and must be included in the strategy for developing the road network to build climate resilience of the most vital road links, including the East-West Highway.

However, uncontrolled road infrastructure expansion poses a serious threat to protecting Nepal’s animals and ecosystems, a hotspot for biodiversity. In the vicinity of the road, related harm includes deforestation, river and watershed systems disruption, and traffic fatalities. A 2022 study predicts that 46 Bengal tigers could perish in the streets in Chitwan National Park, reducing the adult population from 133 to 81 in 20 years due to increased traffic loads and road expansion. Road fatalities are a big worry.

What effect does this have on the climate? Finally, it’s critical to emphasize that such environmental harm would exacerbate climate change and necessitate more climate adaptation efforts. It’s a never-ending cycle. When watersheds are interrupted by road development projects, many climate-related benefits, such as water storage, water filtering, flood management, and erosion/sedimentation control, are lost. Similar to Nepal, where forests make up 45% of the country’s land, deforestation along road corridors has an impact on the forests’ ability to absorb carbon emissions from the atmosphere and play a significant role in global carbon cycle.

Despite the evidence above, maintaining ecosystems while promoting climate resilience are only sometimes front of mind when developing transportation infrastructure. Such adverse effects are frequently disregarded because the roadway is often the focus of road improvement projects.

As a team, we sought to advance a more holistic and environmentally sound method of designing and building Nepal’s East-West Highway that would consider the surrounding watersheds, forests, and other ecological and anthropogenic factors, as well as the country’s larger interconnected landscape. It is becoming increasingly crucial to address global concerns through integrated land-use planning, highway construction, and ecosystems and climate resilience management. Given that infrastructure is a component of a broader system, treating it as an independent entity is no longer appropriate.

Latest articles

Criminals barred from changing names in BC

Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia, will now prevent individuals who have committed serious crimes from changing their names. This decision follows revelations that a...

Climate crisis making economic crisis worse

The economic impact of climate change is six times worse than previously believed, with global warming poised to reduce wealth on a scale comparable...

UK: Rishi Sunak-Akshata Murty’s wealth rise by £120m in a year

The personal fortune of Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, has increased by £120 million as the next general election approaches, according to...

Is US economy still struggling?

The United States finds itself amidst an intriguing economic surge, which carries implications not just for its own trajectory but also for global power...

Related articles