MAPUTO– The Wold Bank says it has approved a grant to Mozambique of 150 million US dollars for the government’s Integrated Feeder Road Development project.

A World Bank media statement received here said the money would be used to improve road access in selected rural areas in Nampula and Zambezia, the two most populous provinces in the country.

It added that although agriculture employs about 80 per cent of the country’s total work force and generates about 30 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), its productivity remains low and is constrained by many factors, including limited rural access.

The average income from farming in Nampula and Zambezia is three times lower than in the rest of the country due to poor rural access, among other factors, it said, noting that across the country about 6.5 million rural dwellers do not have access to a road in good or fair condition”.

The project will target 10 districts in Zambezia and Nampula, with high agricultural potential, and a total population of around 2.2 million, of whom about 1.5 million live below the poverty line.

The money will not all be spent on tertiary roads. Some will go towards rehabilitating heavily used primary roads, notably the 70-kilometre stretch between the city of Quelimane, capital of Zambezia, and the district of Namacurra.

Given Mozambique’s fiscal constraints and recurrent extreme climate-risk vulnerability, the country faces challenges balancing investments needed to maintain and expand its secondary and tertiary road networks, which primarily serve rural agricultural areas, said the World Bank country director, Mark Lundell. This project brings much-needed support to address just that.

I’m happy we’ve reached this important stage towards implementation, said Kulwinder Singh Rao, the World Bank’s task team leader for the operation. Given Mozambique’s high road fatality rates, ranking at 165 out of 173 countries, this project will also support government authorities in their efforts to reduce traffic accidents.

Hence some of the grant will go towards government agencies dealing with road safety, including the National Overland Transport Institute (INATTER) and the traffic police, as well as the Mozambican relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC).

The grant comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group affiliate which provides grants and soft loans for programmes in the world’s poorest countries.