Cambodia’s high vulnerability to climate change is due in part to its economy’s high dependence on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture and water resources, and low adaptive capacity of its population and ecosystems. The dependence on agricultural adds to the importance of an adequate and resilient transport system in the country. However, the capacity to plan, design, construct and maintain resilient road networks is low, with the corresponding implications for the transport of both goods and people, particularly after extreme weather events. Such events are likely to occur more often due to the changing climate.
Therefore, the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) is working with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to improve institutional and technical capacity in the Cambodian transport sector to adapt to climate change-related events. Further, the NDF is contributing grant funding for civil works to climate proof parts of the project road by inter alia building and rehabilitating water retention ponds and walls, as well as planting trees to avoid flooding and land erosion.
The ADB is providing concessional lending to the Cambodian Government for the rehabilitation of rural roads. The NDF has in parallel designed technical assistance to build capacity in the transport sector to adapt relevant infrastructure to climate change-related weather and natural disasters. Further, in relation to the ADB lending operation, the NDF technical assistance is combined with a grant for works to make parts of the project roads more climate resilient, inter alia by building water retention ponds, walls and planting trees along the roads. As the climate resilience component is something that has not previously been implemented in Cambodia, the project has faced some difficulties. However, it currently on track and having good impacts. A follow up phase to both the ADB investments and NDF technical assistance has been approved and is in the initial stage of implementation.
The intervention is expected to build long-term capacity for relevant stakeholders to ensure that both current and future transport infrastructure planning and construction, as well as maintenance, will include substantial measures to make such infrastructure resilient to climate change-related conditions. This will also lower the cost of maintenance while ensuring that the people of rural Cambodia will have uninterrupted access to transport whatever the weather. Further, the actual implementation of such measures for part of the project roads will, in addition to climate proofing those roads, serve as demonstration projects to further increase the understanding of and interest for such measures among local stakeholders, as well as show the benefit of such measures for the local population.
NDF, while working closely with the ADB, has extended the grant funding directly to the Implementing Agency, the Cambodia Ministry of Rural Development (MRD). The MRD has contracted an international consultancy firm, Sweroad, to implement the technical assistance. The consultant’s assignment includes the design and contracting for the civil works. The Cambodian Government is providing in-kind contributions as well as taxes and duties.
As climate resilience in transport infrastructure is new to the Cambodian context, there is a lack of experience and capacity in the local transport sector; the project therefore encountered some difficulties in the earlier phases of implementation. However, all actors on the ground seem to be working very well together, and the NDF-funded technical assistance has had very good impact both in terms of capacity development and putting the issues of climate resilience on the Cambodian agenda through the actual physical demonstration investments. Moreover, this project has clearly demonstrated the need to have extremely capable and experienced engineering consultants in the field to lead the implementation. Furthermore, only by engaging fully in project implementation can financiers ensure that the project design is relevant, and can use the lessons learned for future project development and implementation.
A follow up investment from the ADB, along with a similar parallel technical assistance project funded by the NDF, has been approved and is currently in the early stages of implementation. The NDF is working to ensure that lessons learned from the first phase are properly considered and incorporated in the second phase.
The main benefits from the overall infrastructure investment will be better access to adequate transport for people in rural Cambodia. As the main industry is agriculture, it is of immense importance for these people to have access to markets. In addition, decent transport infrastructure will hopefully increase the possibility for local children to attend school.
The NDF-funded component is expected to build long-term capacity for relevant stakeholders to ensure that both current and future transport infrastructure planning and construction, as well as maintenance, will include substantial measures to make such infrastructure resilient to climate change-related conditions, thereby lowering the cost of maintenance while ensuring that the people of rural Cambodia will have uninterrupted access to transport. Making such infrastructure climate resilient is of great importance to Cambodia as it is vulnerable to extreme flooding in the wet season, and draughts in the dry season. The country has limited resources and capacity to quickly restore and rehabilitate damaged infrastructure, leading to long interruptions for businesses and people dependent on transport infrastructure for their livelihood or education.
Good road infrastructure also leads to fuel savings for those who need to travel by car, bus or similar as well as for freight transport, can help to provide more and better employment possibilities as people will be better able to travel to job markets, allowing enhanced skills/jobs matching. Therefore climate resilient roads are likely to lead to less poverty, and better economic and social growth and development for poor people in rural Cambodia. Furthermore, tree planting as an acknowledged solution for making roads resilient will contribute to additional CO2 sequestration.
A second phase investment from the ADB, along with a second phase of the NDF technical assistance has already been approved and is under early implementation. Further, the capacity built under the NDF-funded component is likely to positively impact on overall current and future infrastructure planning, construction, operation and management. Further, successful solutions for climate proofing in the first phase will be expanded for project roads in the second phase of the investment.
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Asia, Mitigation, Passenger, freight, Technology, Policy, Awareness, Partnerships
Nordic Development Fund and Asian Development Bank
Erik Holmqvist Erik.firstname.lastname@example.org
"Trees planted along road embankments will slow down the erosion of roads. The tree roots draw off water, thus reducing the damage caused by flooding. The planting and maintenance of young trees provide job opportunities for local women, and later they can use the fruit and the timber for their benefit.”
-Stefan Ekelund, Team Leader for CCA output from SweRoad.