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Transport

Building up Bhutan’s resilience to disasters and climate change

Dechen Tshering's picture
Building Bhutans Resilience
Despite progress, Bhutan still has ways to go to understand and adapt to the impacts of climate change. And with the effects of climate change intensifying, the frequency of significant hydro-meteorological hazards are expected to increase. Photo Credit: Zachary Collier


The 2016 monsoon was much heavier than usual affecting almost all of Bhutan, especially in the south.
 
Landslides damaged most of the country’s major highways and smaller roads. Bridges were washed away, isolating communities.
 
The Phuentsholing -Thimphu highway which carries food and fuel from India to half of Bhutan was hit in several locations, and the Kamji bridge partially collapsed, setting residents of the capital city and nearby districts into panic for fear of food and fuel shortages.
 
Overall the floods drove down Bhutan’s gross domestic product by 0.36 percent.

While not as destructive as the 2016 monsoon, flash floods, and landslides are becoming a yearly occurrence along Bhutan’s roads.

Announcing the winners of the 2018 #OneSouthAsia Photo Contest

World Bank South Asia's picture


Home to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, South Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic regions.

It's also one of the least integrated.

A few numbers say it all: Intra-regional trade accounts for only 5 percent of South Asia’s total trade; Intra-regional investment is smaller than 1 percent of overall investment.

South Asia’s transport corridors can lead to prosperity

Martin Melecky's picture
 World Bank
Transport corridors offer enormous potential to boost South Asia’s economies, reduce poverty, and spur more and better jobs for local people, provided the new trade routes generate growth for all and limit their environmental impact. Credit: World Bank

This blog is based on the report The Web of Transport Corridors in South Asia -- jointly produced with the Asian Development Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency

No doubt, South Asia’s prosperity was built along its trade routes.

One of the oldest, the Grand Trunk Road from the Mughal era still connects East and West and in the 17th century made Delhi, Kabul and Lahore wealthy cities with impressive civic buildings, monuments, and gardens.

Fast forward a few centuries and today, South Asia abounds with new proposals to build a vast network of transport corridors.
 
In India alone—and likely bolstered by the successful completion of the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) highway system—several transport proposals extending beyond India’s borders are now under consideration. 
 
They include the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), linking India, Iran and Russia, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, and the Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor.
 
The hope is that these transport corridors will turn into growth engines and create large economic surpluses that can spread throughout the economy and society.

Arguably, the transport corridor with the greatest economic potential is the surface link between Shanghai and Mumbai.
 
These two cities are the economic hubs of China and India respectively, two emerging global powers.
 
The distance between them, about 5,000 kilometers, is not much greater than the distance between New York and Los Angeles.
 
But instead of crossing a relatively empty continent, a corridor from Shanghai to Mumbai—via Kunming, Mandalay, Dhaka, and Kolkata—would go through some of the most densely populated and most dynamic areas in the world, stoking hopes of large economic spillovers along its alignment.
 
“Build and they will come” seems to be the logic underlying many massive transport investments around the world.
 
However, the reality is that not all these investments will generate the expected returns.
 
Worse, they can become wasteful white elephants—that is, transport infrastructure without much traffic—that would cost trillions of dollars at taxpayers’ expense.
 
So, how can South Asia develop transport corridors that have a positive impact on their economies and benefit all people along the corridor alignments and beyond?  
 
First, countries need to change the mindset that transport corridors are mere engineering feats designed to move along vehicles and commodities.
 
Second, sound economic analysis of how corridors can help spur urbanization and create local jobs while minimizing the disruptions to the natural environment, is key to developing successful investment programs.
 
Specifically, it is vital to ensure that local populations whose lives are disrupted by new infrastructure can reap equally the benefits from better transport connectivity.
 
The hard truth is that the development of corridor initiatives may involve difficult tradeoffs.
 
For instance, more educated and skilled people can migrate to obtain better jobs in growing urban areas that are benefiting from corridor connectivity, while unskilled workers may be left behind in depopulated rural areas with few economic prospects.
 
But while corridors can create both winners and losers, well-designed investment programs can alleviate potential adverse impacts and help local people share the benefits more widely.
 
In that vein, India’s Golden Quadrilateral, or GQ highway system, is a cautionary tale. 
 
No doubt, this corridor had a positive impact. 
 
Economic activity along the corridor increased and people, especially women, found better job opportunities beyond traditional farming.
 
But this success came at a cost as air pollution increased in the districts near the highway.
 
This is a major tradeoff and one that was documented before in Japan when levels of air pollution spiked during the development of its Pacific Ocean Belt several decades ago.
 
Another downside is that the economic benefits generated by the GQ highway were distributed unequally in neighboring communities.  

Toward Great Dhaka: Seize the golden opportunity

Qimiao Fan's picture
Toward Great Dhaka
Read the Full Report
Read Press Release
Originally Appeared on the Daily Star

Had you looked across Shanghai's Huangpu River from west to east in the 1980s, you would mostly have seen farmland dotted with a few scattered buildings. At the time, it was unimaginable that East Shanghai, or Pudong, would one day become a global financial centre; that its futuristic skyline, sleek expressways, and rapid trains would one day be showcased in blockbusters like James Bond and Mission Impossible movies! It was also unimaginable that the Shanghainese would consider living in Pudong.

How wrong that would have been! Pudong is now hosting some of the world's most productive companies, and boosting some of the city's most desirable neighbourhoods. And Shanghai has become China's most important global city, lifting the entire hinterland with it.

The same potential for urban transformation exists in Bangladesh, across the Pragati Sarani Airport Road that divides Dhaka into its west and east. West Dhaka is urban, hosting vibrant centres. East Dhaka remains largely rural, with a vast expanse of farmland. This sharp contrast presents a golden urban development opportunity for Dhaka, one that is not available to other major Asian cities.

Realizing the Promise of a Great Dhaka


Dhaka's population has grown from three million in 1980 to 18 million today and it continues to increase rapidly, which is a clear sign of success. However, Dhaka's development has been mostly spontaneous, with its urban infrastructure not keeping pace with its population growth.

Bringing Sri Lanka's traders one step closer to the global market

Marcus Bartley Johns's picture
Making trade more efficient in Sri Lanka
The recently launched Sri Lanka Trade Information Portal is a one stop shop for traders. Photo Credit: Joe Qian/World Bank

Sri Lanka’s traditional lacework famously known as Beeralu is slowly moving into the spotlight of the global fashion industry. Udeni, who is a traditional Beeralu lace maker from Galle, learned the technique from her mother and developed it into a part-time business. 

At the moment, she sells to buyers from Colombo who then sell her product internationally. She would like to export directly one day, but for the time-being, she must rely on “middlemen” because of the complexity of the export process. A major barrier is the lack of information on what government procedures apply in Sri Lanka before her product can even reach a foreign buyer. 

Being unable to access information related to export and import procedures isn’t just a problem for entrepreneurs like Udeni, but a significant barrier for the entire Sri Lankan trading community. In a recent set of interviews conducted by the World Bank, every business interviewed said that personal experience was the leading source of information on import and export procedures. Only half said that they turn to government agencies for information, with concern expressed that the little information available online is often out of date, and spread across many websites. 

Six ways Sri Lanka can attract more foreign investments

Tatiana Nenova's picture
In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion. But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI.
In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion. But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI. Credit: Shutterstock 


To facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Sri Lanka launched last week an innovative online one-stop shop to help investors obtain all official approvals. To mark the occasion, this blog series explores different aspects of FDI in Sri Lanka. Part 1 put forth 5 Reasons Why Sri Lanka Needs FDI. Part 3 will relate how the World Bank is helping to improve Sri Lanka’s enabling environment for FDI.

Sri Lanka and foreign investments read a bit like a hit and miss story.

But it was not always the case.

Before 1983, companies like Motorola and Harris Corporation had plans to establish plants in Sri Lanka’s export processing zones. Others including Marubeni, Sony, Sanyo, Bank of Tokyo and Chase Manhattan Bank, had investments in Sri Lanka in the pipeline in the early 1980s.

All this changed when the war convulsed the country and derailed its growth. Companies left and took their foreign direct investments (FDI) with them.

Nearly a decade after the civil conflict ended in 2009, Sri Lanka is now in a very different place.

In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion including foreign loans received by companies registered with the BOI, more than doubling from the $801 million achieved the previous year.

But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI.
 
As a percentage of GDP, FDI currently stands at a mere 2 percent and lags behind Malaysia at 3 – 4 percent and Vietnam at 5 – 6 percent.

Mapping Afghanistan’s future, one road at a time

Walker Bradley's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Mapping Afghanistan’s future, one road at a time
OpenStreetMap is an open source geospatial data portal built and maintained by a community of mappers. Photo Credit: Taimani Films/ World Bank


In May 2017, the World Bank celebrated its 15 years of reengagement in Afghanistan. Since reengagement, we have helped the government deliver public services to its citizens and, in the process, accumulated a wealth of data on many sectors from health and education to infrastructure.

However, publicly available base data used across sectors – also called ‘foundation’ data-- is still lacking. As it happens, that information is important to design projects and inform policies.

Case in point: while we may have data on vaccines given or babies born, we don’t know much about the roads that lead to the clinic. Similarly, we may get data on school attendance and passing rates of students, but we don’t know how long it takes for students to reach their schools.

These examples highlight how foundation data can help better plan the expansion of healthcare facilities or enhance access to education. After all, each mapped kilometer of a road can help us understand how long Afghan children must walk to get to school or how long it takes sick Afghans to reach a hospital.

Without question, there is a clear need for better foundation data to inform decision making at all levels.

اهمیت نقشه برداری برای اینده افغانستان، اما یک سرک در یک وقت

Walker Bradley's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
Mapping Afghanistan’s future, one road at a time
اوپن ستريت مپ يک منبع رایگان معلومات جغرافيايی است که توسط یک گروهی از متخصصان  نقشه برداری بميان آمده و فعالیت می نماید. عکس: تایمنی فلم/ بانک جهانی

بانک جهانی در ماه می سال ۲۰۱۷، از پانزدهمین  سالگرد از سرگیری فعالیت هایش در افغانستان تجليل نمود.  این در حالیست که طی این ۱۵ سال گذشته بانک جهانی حمایت لازم را برای دولت افغانستان غرض فراهم آوری خدمات عامه به افغانها فراهم نموده است. در اين فرایند، مشترکاً با دولت افغانستان ما توانستیم معلومات و آمار بسیاری را در بخش های صحت، معارف و هم چنان زیربنا ها جمع آوری نمايیم.

با آنکه معلومات در عرصه های مختلف بصورت پراگنده و غیر هماهنگ در دسترس عام قرار دارد اما این معلومات هنوز هم کافی نیست تا افغانها و همکاران انکشافی را در طرح ریزی برنامه ها و تدوین پاليسی ها که نقش کلیدی دارند، کمک نماید. به طور مثال ما در حاليکه آمار تطبيق واکسين و اطفال نوزاد را داريم، اما در مورد سرک ها ییکه به مراکز صحی منتهی میشوند آگاهی نداریم. به همین ترتیب، ممکن است در رابطه به میزان حاضری شاگردان در مکاتب و شاگردانيکه در امتحانات کامياب ميشوند بدانیم، اما  در مورد اینکه آیا چه زمانی را در برمیگیرد، تا شاگردان به مکتب برسند، معلومات کافی در دست نداريم.

این مثال ها نشان دهنده این است که چگونه  معلومات و آمار اساسی و دقیق ميتواند در گسترش پلانگذاری تسهيلات و خدمات صحی کمک نماید  و يا هم چگونه میتوانیم با دسترسی به این آمار دسترسی معارف را تقويت بخشیم. در نهایت امر، نقشه برداری هرکيلومتر سرک به ما کمک مينماید، تا بدانیم که اطفال بعد از طی چه مصافتی به مکتب میرسند، یا چه زمانی نیاز است، تا یک بیمار به شفاخانه برسد. بدون شک، دسترسی به آمار اساسی و دقیق یک نياز شمرده می شود، تا در روشنی آن مسوولین ذیربط در تمام سطوح از آن استفاده نمایند. 

د افغانستان راتلونکی نقشه کول، هرځل یو سړک

Walker Bradley's picture
Also available in: English | دری
Mapping Afghanistan’s future, one road at a time
اوپن سټريټ مپ د جغرافيايي معلوماتو يوه وړيا منبع ده چې د کارپوهو نقشه اخيستونکو يوې ډلې رامنځته کړې او فعاله يې ساتي.  انځور: ټایمني/نړیوال بانک

د ۲۰۱۷ کال په مې مياشت کې نړیوال بانک په افغانستان د خپلو فعاليتونو د بيا پيل ۱۵ مه کليزه ونمانځله. دا په داسې حال کې ده چې د دغو ۱۵ کلو په اوږدو کې نړیوال بانک افغان دولت ته اړينې مرستې برابرې کړي او دولت يې افغانانو ته د عامه خدمتونو رسولو جوګه کړی. په دې بهير کې مو له دولت سره په ګډه د روغتيا، پوهنې او زېربناوو په برخو کې ګڼې شمېرې او معلومات راټول کړي.

سره له دې چې په بېلابېلو سکتورونو کې معلومات په خوره وره او ګډه وډه بڼه په عام ډول د لاسرسي وړ دي، خو دا معلومات لا دومره نه دي چې له افغانانو او پراختيايي ملګرو سره د پروژو په طرحه او پاليسي جوړولو کې، چې کليدي ونډه لري، مرسته وکړي. د بېلګي په ډول: موږ په داسې حال کې چې د واکسينو د تطبيق او د نویو زېږېدلو کوچنیانو شمېرې لرو، د هغو سړکونو په اړه چې صحي مرکزونو ته ورغلي معلومات نه لرو. همدا راز، موږ ښايي په ښوونځيو کې د زده کوونکو د حاضرۍ او د هغو زده کوونکو چې په ازموينو کې کاميابېږي د شمېرو په اړه معلومات ولرو، خو په دې اړه چې زده کوونکي په څومره وخت کې ښوونځي ته رسېږي، کافي معلومات نلرو.

دا بېلګې روښانوي چې څنګه دقیق لومړني معلومات او شمېرې را سره د صحي مرکزونو او خدماتو په غځولو کې مرسته کوي او يا څنګه ښوونې ته لاسرسی پياوړی کولای شو. د هر کيلومتر سړک نقشه اخيستنه موږ ته راښوولای شي چې کوچنيان تر ښوونځي څومره پلي ځي‌، او يا يو ناروغ په څومره وخت کې تر روغتونه رسېږي. بې له شکه چې لومړنیو معلوماتو او شمېرو ته څرګنده اړتيا ليدل کېږي، چې په رڼا کې يې اړوند چارواکي په هر پاټکي کې له دې ګټه واخلي.

Improving Agricultural Systems and Raising Prosperity in Rural Bhutan

Izabela Leao's picture
Tara Nidhi, farmer and beneficiary of the Remote Rural Communities Development Project
Tara Nidhi, farmer and beneficiary
of the Remote Rural Communities
Development Project (RRCDP) in Bhutan.
Photo Credit: Izabela Leao/World Bank

“I never thought I would see a road passing by my house in this lifetime,” says Tara Nidhi, a 70-year old farmer who lives in a remote community of Samtse Dzongkhag in Southwest Bhutan. A beneficiary of the Remote Rural Communities Development Project (RRCDP), he and his family have benefitted from the construction of a new farm road and protection from landslides through RRCDP support – a project that promotes the increasing of agricultural productivity and development of communities’ access to markets, irrigation, agricultural technologies, and community infrastructure in 26 Gewogs (village groups) under six Dzongkhags (districts) in Bhutan: Chhukha, Dagana, Haa, Samtse, Trongsa, and Wanduephodrang.

Driving Prosperity through Access to Rural Roads

Coming to completion in May 2018, RRCDP has improved road access to markets to at least 11 project Chiwogs (hamlets) in Samtse and Trongsa Dzongkhags – building 22.9 kilometers of farm roads and benefitting about 299 households. With the construction of new farm roads, the most commonly marketed agricultural and livestock products amongst farmers in project areas have been cardamom, vegetables, butter, cheese, and citrus, and to a lesser extent, rice, potatoes, and eggs. Additionally, beneficiaries have also reported a significant reduction in the time of travel between their households and markets – up to 8 hours in some cases! The majority of the Bhutanese population live in remote rural areas – hours, sometimes days of walking from the nearest road. They walk their children through dense forests and rivers to reach schools and health clinics; they carry their agricultural and livestock products to nearby markets on their backs – an average load of 30kg. A horse carrying a 50kg load costs approximately Nu.5 per kilogram.

Now, with road accessibility, farmers use pick-up trucks at the cost of Nu.2 per kilogram. After a RRCDP farm road construction in Samtse, for example, four households bought pick-up trucks and ten individuals bought motorcycles – mainly benefitting the transport of cardamom. Better road accessibility through RRCDP have also fostered the construction of concrete flush toilets outside households and the construction of new concrete-built homes, as well as the expansion of irrigation schemes. Finally, road accessibility has also impacted social dynamics in rural areas benefitted by the project. While in the past mostly men would go to the nearest town markets on their own, today, all family members, including women and children can go to the market in the morning and return to their homes in the evening. Some women have even reported that they are learning to drive.[1]

The project has also supported beneficiaries in 88 Chiwogs with access to community and marketing infrastructure, such as power tiller tracks, power tiller machinery, and food bridges – with a total of 3,597 households benefitted. In Norgaygang Gewog, for example, with support from the project, the construction of 4 kilometers of power tiller track in 2016, has brought multiple benefits to the community, such as easier access to schools and healthcare in case of emergency.

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